Summary: Aging in dogs, however heartbreaking, is unfortunately inevitable. In this blog, we learn the most common signs that your dog is getting old and entering the later chapters of their life so you can best adapt and support them.
Aging can be quite a scary, unpleasant thought for some of us. But, it’s an inevitability and something we all must go through… And, so must our pups! Unless you have rescued your pooch from a shelter or other circumstances, you and your family would have seen your dog grow from a helpless, cheeky puppy to the grown dog they are today… Although they might not have lost their cheeky streak! Regardless of your situation, you will be with your dog until the day they sadly pass, and that comes with looking after them as they reach the elderly stages of life.
There are a few things that puppy parents need to be aware of when we have a dog that is reaching maturity. We want to be able to keep our pets as healthy and happy as possible, all the way until the end of their lives.
Take a look at some of the changes you need to expect as your dog becomes a senior. Knowledge is everything when it comes to looking after your aging dog the right way… Their best years might be behind them, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a few more awesome ones in the future!
Loss of Hearing and/or Sight
Just like us humans, your dog’s eyes and ears can start to worsen with age which is one of the strongest signs that your dog is getting old. Their superior sense may start to dull and weaken as your dog reaches their later stages of life, which could, in turn, affect their daily activities and habits. Your once throw-the-ball-obsessed pup may not have the same interest when their vision starts to deteriorate.
If your dog is starting to lose sight or hearing, you might begin to notice changes in their behavior… And sometimes, it can become quite challenging. When your dog’s hearing weakens, they might not be as obedient as they once were as they may struggle to hear your commands.
Does your dog love to have a nap? Well, the older they get the larger their love of naps will become! An elderly dog will have a lot less energy than their former, youthful self, so curling up in their doggy bed or by your feet will become a more common occurrence. With this in mind, our advice is to buy a few more dog beds to add to your home and create more sleep-worthy areas. This will give your aging dog more comfortable places to rest.
Keep in mind that as your dog ages, their joints can become weaker, too, so make sure that you get some nice, comfortable, padded beds that are low to the ground for your senior pooch. Doing this will help make their aching joints a lot more comfortable if they don’t need to jump up on beds and couches.
Old age brings all kinds of issues – to both us and our dogs – and signs that your dog is getting old include stiffening or weakened joints. This can make a lot of day-to-day movements more difficult and you might begin to notice your pooch choosing not to jump onto the couch, or taking their time to get up the stairs.
To support your pup’s joint health, you could also add a few little extras to their daily routine. For example, turmeric is a wonderful herb that can have inflammatory balancing properties. Start with just a tiny bit of the powder – anywhere between 1/8 tsp to 1/4 tsp for every 10lbs your pup weighs.
Dry skin is incredibly common in older dogs and can become quite an irritation – causing itchy or vulnerable skin. This dry skin can most probably appear on or around your pup’s nose, elbows, and the pads on their paws. As their puppy parent, there isn’t much that you can do to prevent this from happening, but you can help support healthy skin. If you use a moisturizing cream on these dry areas, you can give your pooch a little respite from their daily distresses.
As your pup ages, a sign that they’re getting old can be a lack of energy; it’s probable their energy levels will decrease. They won’t have the same excitement for the things they did as a puppy or in their younger years. By the later stages of life, they have seen and learned a lot – thanks to you and the life you have given them. You’ll probably notice that your dog becomes a lot more content, peaceful, and relaxed. They might not run to the back door to whip around the garden or jump up and down when you get their leash out for a walk, but that is okay. They have just become more mature and stoic. Like many old folks we know…
Different Dietary Needs
Your dog’s needs will change as they age, which includes what they eat. Changes in their diet will happen all through their lives – from being a puppy to when they are fully grown. As they age, you will need to adjust their food intake too. This might mean more or less of certain things, like caloric intake or nutritional needs, depending on their amount of activity. Additional supplements could also be added to your furry friends’ daily routine to help support their joints, digestive system, skin, and dental health. If you’re unsure, talk to your vet to find out as much information as possible about what requirements your dog may have the older they get.
Do Older Dogs Eat Less?
If you’re wondering “do older dogs eat less?“, it’s normal for dogs to eat slightly less as they grow older but they should retain a healthy appetite for their meals. If your dog is eating noticeably less at any age or is refusing food completely, this can be a sign something is wrong so always run any significant changes by your vet.
Requiring More Vet Visits
This change may be quite obvious… the older your pooch gets, the more health issues that may occur, which, of course, will mean more trips to the vet. Even if your elderly pooch is extremely healthy, a couple of visits to the vet each year is highly recommended the older they get. Once your dog is looking into their 9th year of life, they’re considered a senior dog. It’s our job as their puppy parents to make sure they’re healthy and well, so making the time to get them to the vets more regularly is very important.
This might have to be the biggest change to deal with… Losing your beloved pet. When they do pass, you might find that your whole world feels a little empty and quiet, but you can take comfort in knowing that you have given them the best life possible and supported them through those difficult final years. There are many support groups and people you can turn to for some bereavement support, but try to focus on all of the good memories, and let yourself mourn properly before considering a new addition to your home.
Aging is a natural way of life, and unfortunately for us humans, our dogs have a much smaller lifespan. When you’re making the choice to bring a dog into your family, you must always have in the back of your mind that you’re going to see your pooch pass away someday and that will come along with looking after them in those final few years where things might not be as smooth as they once were. It is your job to support them in the best way possible to help their life stay as normal as can be – they will love you all the more for it.