November is National Adopt a Senior Dog Month. In honor of our senior dogs, and the special attention they so richly deserve, this blog is dedicated to our furry elders.
The old rule of thumb that 1 dog year = 7 in human years is approximate, yet not accurate.
A dog at the tender age of 6 is the equivalent of a 45-year-old human. At 10, they’re almost 65; 12 =75; and at 15 = 90.
It’s important to consider how old your dog is in human years in order to keep your senior dog active, mentally stimulated and schedule Veterinary well exams if not once per year, then semi-annually (highly recommended). Early diagnosis of potential conditions will make the difference in adding years to your dog’s life.
Senior dogs require a diet that is 30-40% fewer in calories, high in fiber, low in fat and vitamin supplements. Your Vet is the best source for these discussions and age-appropriate diet changes.
Let’s grow old together. We have many senior guests who defy their ‘dog years” and continue to romp with delight. Just because your dog is getting older, does not mean it’s time to give up on their infirmities…or give them up. We salute our Pet Parents who maintain their devotion and patience with their older dogs.
Typical Senior Conditions & Special Dog Care Considerations
Arthritis & joint pain: If your dog isn’t climbing the stairs, walking as far, has trouble getting up or down or slips on slick floor surfaces, anti-inflammatories and/or joint supplements can help. Visit our website Pet Store for pet food and treats for merchant links (Tru Dog, Good Boy and Pet Wellbeing) that offer an arsenal of supplements and special senior dog products: http://www.doolittlesdoghouse.com/shop
Consider slip-proofing your floors and provide a soft bed for slumber.
For calloused elbows, open a Vitamin E capsule and apply the oil to the sore areas. (Cut the toes off a sock and slide onto the anointed area to ensure absorption).
Massage can increase relaxation, oxygen flow, and provide some pain relief and joint flexibility.
Exercise is still important for your senior dog! This helps maintain a healthy body weight as overweight dogs suffer from a number of health problems, beyond senioritis.
Even though their metabolism is naturally slowing down, that doesn’t mean you stop walking…just shorten the time and distance!
Dental Disease: 20% of dogs develop some form of dental disease by the age of 5!! Bad breath or teeth discoloration is the obvious symptom.
Chew on this: if untreated, this can lead to decay, tooth loss and possible infection. Actively brush the teeth, provide hard-surface chew toys or bones and consider a periodic, professional cleaning.
Heart Disease: digression in the heart valves might lead to enlargement of the heart and possible failure. Early diagnosis is critical (consider adding X-rays to annual well exams) as some treatment methods will add years to your dog’s heart (and yours!)
Diabetes: if you notice increased thirst (and urination), weight loss, unusually sweet-smelling breath, dehydration (sticky gums), chronic skin infections, urinary tract infections or lethargy, you may have a dog who’s developed diabetes. Again, with early diagnosis, this is treatable with medications or a high-fiber diet, and in most cases, insulin injections.
Kidney Disease: this is the most common metabolic disease in dogs. Known as Cushing’s Disease or Hypothyroidism, early detection (through blood work) is critical so special diets and medicine can be prescribed.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction: akin to Alzheimer’s in humans, this is a decline in the mental faculties. Fifty percent of dogs over age 10 will exhibit one or more symptoms of cognitive dysfunction syndrome.
Symptoms might include disorientation, sleep interruption, aimless wandering and indiscriminate elimination. Behavioral changes, such as needing more attention or not at all, could mean your dog is reacting to his own symptoms and uncertainty.
Hearing loss: As dogs age, the nerve cells and hearing apparatus degenerates, resulting in a slow loss of hearing. Not normally a big deal….dogs read our body language and follow hand signals quite well.
Eye disorders: the most prevalent is cataracts. This is a progressive disorder that could lead to complete blindness. Dogs have amazing survival instincts and can manage a balanced and happy life without sight.
Incontinence: Kidney function and urinary control may lessen over time. This is not a big deal. (Do you piddle when you giggle?) “Depends” for dogs are available and medications to control it…just ask your Vet!
Consider your dog’s age, more frequent Vet visits, and Pet Insurance. Back to our website Shop! We have a link to Embrace Insurance: www.doolittlesdoghouse.com/shop.By clicking for a free quote, you will receive information to properly evaluate pet insurance for your dogs and cats, without any obligation.
Doolittle’s Doghouse share’s the lifetime obligation to your pets, at all ages and stages, and thanks you for your special commitment to our very special seniors.
Please call us for cage-free boarding of your beloved pets. We are dedicated to you and yours.
Photo of Senior Dog above courtesy of Gualberto107@ FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Photo of Cleo from our personal album of Doolittle’s Doghouse guests.
Affiliate Marketer Disclosure: the merchants represented in our pet store show their appreciation to us via a small commission. This doesn’t add to your product cost, yet helps us keep the lights on! Thank you for taking a peek at our pet store catalog.