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Keeping Senior Dogs Comfortable During Their "Golden Years"

Posted by Alicia Compton on

“Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.”  - Sidney Jeanne Seward

That quote is one of the truest quotes I’ve ever heard. A senior dog has so much to offer. Plus, they’re wise with age. Making them the perfect companion.


It’s true that senior dogs love with unconditional love. So, how do we even begin to repay them? We do our best to keep our senior dogs comfortable.


I can’t stress my love for senior dogs enough. It doesn't matter if you've owned the dog your whole life. You may have adopted the dog as a senior. Whatever your situation may be, those eyes hold so much wisdom.


HOW ARE SENIOR DOGS DEFINED?

But, how do you know if you know if you should consider your dog a senior? Well, PetMD defines a senior dog quite well.


The first thing you want to look for is signs of an aging pet. Because, a 10 year old chihuahua may still act like a puppy. While a 10 year old Great Dane may take arthritis medication.

Keeping your senior dog comfortable


So, what signs should you look for when you consider aging in dogs?

 

Weight loss


Weight gain


Trouble eating


Trouble getting around


A dog who may seem unaware


Trouble urinating or having bowel movements


Uncontrollable urination and bowel movements


Obvious dental problems (smelly breath, tooth decay, etc.)


    It is also said that smaller dogs have longer life spans than older dogs. Meaning that you consider a larger dog a senior before a smaller dog.

    VETERINARIAN CARE FOR SENIOR DOGS



    The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) suggests that senior pets get veterinary visits that are more frequent. The AVMA suggests senior pets see a veterinarian twice a year.

    Senior dogs tend to develop health problems quickly. It’s important that you catch these early. That’s why taking your older dog to the vet twice a year versus once a year is important. A lot can change in 6 months when you have an older pet.


    SENIOR DOG DIET CHANGES

     


    Older dogs may have problem either gaining or losing weight. There are many factors that go into either problem. Weight loss in an older dog may be the result of different factors.


    I’ve included those possible factors below.


    Tooth problems. If an older dog has dental problems their mouth may hurt. Which results in a lack of interest to food.


    Disease. The word disease is a hard topic to swallow. But, with age, sometimes comes disease. Like us when an older dog doesn’t feel well they may not want to eat. Resulting in weight loss.


    Okay, so we know some reasons why an older dog may lose weight. But, what about gaining weight?


    Well, as we all know, as you get older you can't get around as well. So, senior dogs may not play as much. They may not be able to handle those long walks anymore.


    The great part is that you can help manage an older dog's weight loss or weight gain. All it takes is a little dedication, patience, and time.


    HELPING SENIOR DOGS GAIN WEIGHT


    Is your older dog is having problems maintaining their weight? There are a couple steps you can take. With these steps, I’m hopeful you'll be able to add some pounds to your sweet senior friend.


    Get with a veterinarian. I get it. Veterinarians are expensive. But, weight loss isn’t anything to play with. A veterinarian will be able to find out if there is an underlying  cause of the weight loss.


    Make a diet change. Your dog may need a diet with different nutrients to help them gain weight. A veterinarian can recommend the best possible food for your dog.

    Caring for a senior dog


    Change the consistency of your dog’s food. If you feed your dog dry kibble, and they have dental issues, it may hurt to chew. Sometimes it’s recommended that you add a little warm water to kibble.


    If you allow the kibble to soak it will may be easier for your pet to chew. In the end, a veterinarian may even suggest switching to a wet dog food.


    Switch up the frequency of meals. Dog’s that need to gain weight may need a different feeding schedule than a dog with a healthy weight. A dog suffering from weight loss may need more frequent meals. But, with a less amount.


    HELPING SENIOR DOGS LOSE WEIGHT

     


    Does your senior dog need to join a weight loss program? It’s important to not overwork those frail muscles and bones.


    But, even a little extra weight causes strain on old bones. With any age, it’s important that your pet maintains a good weight.   

    Check with a veterinarian. Checking with a veterinarian will always be my #1 recommendation. Because, like with losing weight, gaining weight may be a sign of an underlying problem. Some diseases, like hypothyroidism, causes weight gain in dogs.

    Change your dog’s diet. I know that those glaring eyes make you want to sneak your dog extra treats. But, you also want your dog around for as long as possible, right?


    You can also add a few short walks during the day to help shed a couple excess pounds.


    It may sound crazy, but, sometimes how your dog has to eat is uncomfortable. Imagine having achy bones and having to bend your head so far down to the ground. Going through pain so you can eat. Doesn’t sound very appealing, does it?


    Raised pet dishes are GREAT for senior dogs. They allow them to eat without that unnecessary bending over. Your old man, or woman, should enjoy eating. It shouldn't hurt to eat!


    The Pet Fusion Grade A New Zealand Pet Feeder is a great option for small or large senior dogs.


    It comes in two different sizes. It’s available in a short height as well as a tall height. With the short height being 4”. The tall height is 8”.

    This raised feeder has a lot of other great features, too. I listed a few below.

     

    • Made out of Grade A New Zealand Pine.
    • Raised to help with digesting food.
    • Includes a seal that is water resistant.
    • Anti-slip feet.
    • Food grade stainless steel bowls included.


    I’m being honest when I say a raised feeder is one of the best investments you can make for a senior dog.


    They don’t only make your older dog more comfortable when they eat. They also help with digestion. So, having a raised feeder, without a doubt, is a win/win investment.

    CREATING A SENIOR DOG “COMFORT ZONE”

     


    If you’re not already retired, how do you picture retirement?


    I picture white, sandy beaches. I only picture it that way because of what I see on TV. But, I know quite a few people who live retirement life a little bit different.


    Most of the retired people I know are always on the go. They never slow down. I guess after working forever that’s all you know how to do. But, that’s us human.


    I know older dogs want to do what most retired humans want to do. They’re ready to relax. It’s time for them to enjoy life. In all honesty, it’s an entitlement retired humans, and dogs, deserve.


    How do you give your dog that rest and relaxation though?


    We’d all love to treat our senior, wise dog to five course meals. Accompanied by a long walk on the beach. But, that isn’t always possible. So, what do we do? We make our home their comfort zone. We change our homes into safe havens for our sweet furry family members.


    There’s a lot of things you can do to turn your home into a comfort zone for your older dog. You have to keep in mind their safety, health, comfort, and well being.


    Here’s a couple things you can do to give your best friend the best possible area to rest his or her head.


    Provide your dog with a soft place to land. I don't know about you. But, jumping into my bed after a long day is the best thing ever! To an older dog even an hour or so may feel like a long day. So, always having somewhere soft available for them to lay their head is a must.


    If you’re looking for the ultimate bed for your senior, you’ll love this one.

    The Pet Fusion Ultimate Dog Bed & Lounge is a great choice for any age pet. But, a definite great choice for older dogs.


    The bed comes in two great, modern colors, slate gray and brown. It also doubles as a lounge. The Pet Fusion bed is also made of solid memory foam. Talk about comfy!


    Ramps and steps are a senior dogs best friend. Investing in a ramp for your car is a great investment when you have an older dog. It makes loading up for those trips much easier. Plus, it's less painful for your furry best friend.


    Steps are great if you allow your dog on your furniture. Jumping up can cause strain on an aging dog's body.


    Keep things familiar. Dogs are much like humans. As they get older, they begin to forget things. They lose their hearing and their sight. My old man is blind. So, making sure everything stays the same is important.

    Senior dogs have so much love to give. That’s why it’s important for us to keep them comfortable during their golden years. They can’t speak. We have to be the voice for them.


    With a little time and dedication on your end your old dog can live out a happy life. You don't need all the bells and whistles of beach trips. They want to feel safe and comfortable. Right next to you.


    Small tweaks like raised feeders and comfortable beds are great. They give your old friend that “ahhh!” relaxation feeling they deserve. Plus, they give your dog to have a safe place to land.


    I’m the proud owner of two senior dogs. Well, most days, it’s more like they own me.


    My oldest is a 60 pound Golden Retriever mix. The other is a 10 pound dachshund. They are both seniors. I haven’t had the pleasure of loving them their whole lives. But, I’ve had the pleasure of loving them a few years of their lives.


    Both of my senior dogs are rescues. It’s important to me to allow them to live out their golden years in comfort and peace.That they don’t have to suffer when they’re trying to relax or sleep. That there isn’t any pain when they’re eating.

    Caring for an old dog


    There’s something great about the tips I shared above with you, though. Those tips work great for any age range.


    My youngest dog is a 3 year old Boston Terrier. When he was only 8 months old, he escaped from our fenced in backyard. The result? Our neighbor hit him with their car. When they hit him, it resulted in a lot of veterinary visits. As a result of his accident he had a broken leg. Plus, quite a few wounds.


    Thankfully, at the time, I worked at a veterinarian office. Because, due to where his injury was, his leg wrap had to be changed daily. He couldn’t get around, so making sure he was comfortable was a top priority.


    After a lot of veterinary visits, medications, and therapy he is 100% better now. But, I’m so thankful we already had what we needed in place to make sure he was cared for.


    Since our oldest was already a senior, we had comfort zones set up all in our home. So, we were already prepared to make him comfortable after his accident.


    So, even if your four legged friend is just a youngster, it’s never too early to prepare. Because, well, we all know puppies are quite curious.


    While I hope you never have to deal with an “uh oh,” it’s great to already be prepared. Then you’re not rushing around to make them comfortable if and when the time ever comes.


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