Ageing can be quite a scary, unpleasant thought for some of us. But its 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 us 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 have to and need to expect as your dog becomes elderly. Knowledge is everything when it comes to looking after your ageing 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!
Just like us humans, your dog’s eye and ears can start to worsen with age. 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-ballobsessed pup may not have the same interest when their vision starts to deteriorate.
If your dog is starting to lose their sight or hearing, you might begin to notice changes in their behaviour… 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 will struggle to hear your commands. Take a look at a previous blog we have written, helping you with how to look after a pup suffering from sight and/or hearing loss…
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 ageing dog more comfortable places to rest. Keep in mind that as your dog ages, their joints will become weaker, too, so make sure that you get some nice, comfortable, padded beds that are low to the ground for your senior pooch…It will 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 – including stiff, achy and weakened joints. This will 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. Joints issues may seem inevitable, but there are things you can do as their owner to help their pain and discomfort.
You could also add a few little extras to their diet to help sooth those painful joints. Turmeric is a wonderful herb that can naturally help their joints with its exceptional anti-inflammatory properties. Start with just a tiny bit of the powder – anywhere between 1/8 tsp to 1/4 tsp for every 4.5kg your pup weighs. Add it to their meals and you’ll start to see an improvement in their joint difficulties in no time.
Dry skin is incredibly common in older dogs and can become quite an irritation – causing itchy and cracked skin. This dry skin will 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 soothe the discomfort. If you use a moisturising cream on these dry areas, you can give your pooch a little respite from their distress.
As your pup ages, 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.
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 might also have to be added to your furry friends’ daily intake 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 dietary requirements your dog may need the older they get.
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 enters the 9th year of life, they’re considered a senior dog. With each year after that, the higher their risks are of certain illnesses like; arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. The sooner illnesses like these are found, the higher the chances are of successful treatment and recovery.
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.
Ageing is a natural part of life, and unfortunately for us humans, our dogs have a much smaller life span. 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.