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10 Things All Senior Pup Parents Should Know

Repost from I Heart Dogs

The needs of your dog will change as he grows older, just like things change for you. As their bodies slow down, they will become less active, sleep more, and have different dietary needs.

Because dogs may need some extra attention and care as they grow older, we’ve compiled some tips for helping you keep your dog as happy and comfortable as possible.

#1 – Understand Dogs Hide Pain

Dogs have a natural tendency to hide any signs of pain or illness. This is due to their pack mentality, in which noticeably weak or sick members might be abandoned by the rest of the pack. So pay a little closer attention than normal for signs your senior pup isn’t doing so well.

#2 – Regular Vet Exams Are Critical

An annual vet visit will screen for any illnesses that are more likely to pop up as your dog ages, and your vet might catch some symptoms of pain and discomfort that you’re unable to recognize on your own.

#3 – Watch Out for Deteriorating Vision

Many dogs will develop cataracts as they age that can lead to blindness, even if they have had perfect eye health earlier in life. Things to look out for include:

  • having a harder time getting around at night

  • running into walls or having difficulty jumping on or off the couch

  • falling down steps or off a curb when walking.

Make sure you have your dog checked out by a veterinarian to make sure there are no other underlying ailments causing the vision impairment.

#4 – Watch Out for Deafness

If you notice that your dog is suddenly ignoring you, or perhaps not coming when he hears you opening his dog food container or greeting you when you walk in the door like he used to, it’s a good idea to get his hearing checked. Loss of hearing is normal in aging dogs, but it’s important to get your pup checked out by a veterinarian to make sure the deafness is indeed a sign of old age and to learn more about caring for your hearing impaired pup.

#5 – Update Feeding Regimens

As your dog ages, her dietary needs will change. Overfeeding a dog during her senior years is a recipe for trouble, as aging bones, muscles, and any arthritic joints will be unable to support the added weight. Check with your veterinarian to get an idea of what sort of dietary needs are required by your dog.

#6 – Note Behavioral Changes

Changes in behavior are often signs of changes in your dog's body, some of which may be pain and/or illness. You might notice that he’s suddenly aggressive when it comes to being touched or petted. Maybe he’s pacing around aimlessly and can never seem to get cozy in his bed or is acting confused and gets lost in familiar places (signs of dementia). If your dog is showing strange behavior, make the trip to the vet.

#7 – Don’t Rush Into Scolding

If you notice your pup eliminating in the house even though she’s been housebroken her entire life, don’t immediately get upset with her and assume she’s being disobedient. Incontinence is a very real part of aging, and a lot of dogs will experience it as they get older. Once your veterinarian determines that your dog does have incontinence, you can work together to improve the condition.

#8 – Adjust the Comfort Level of Your Home

As our dogs age, they’ll lose muscle mass and bone density. A lot of dogs will also lose some weight. Because of this, it may be uncomfortable for them to rest on hard surfaces. Make sure to provide extra cushioning and beds in all of your most frequented rooms as well as plush step-stools or a ramp to make it easier for your dog to get to higher places.

#9 - Get Your Dog's Teeth Checked Often

Whether you’ve kept up on routine dental care throughout the life or your dog or not, your dog’s teeth will become weaker as he ages. To make sure there isn’t any painful damage, be sure to keep brushing them and getting them checked out by your veterinarian to detect and keep track of any issues early on as a dental cleaning with anesthetic may be ill-advised.

#10 - Keep Up Grooming

Regular grooming will help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy, give them a nice scratch and massage, which also helps encourage healthy blood flow. Keeping your dog comfortable is one of the best things we can do as they age, and maintaining their health is important to ensure that the precious time they have left with us is filled with happy, loving days.

For more from I Heart Dogs, please visit their website