Senior dogs have different care requirements than those of a younger dog. This fact probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. But how do you know when your dog is considered to be a senior? It really depends on the individual dog. In general, giant breed dogs age faster than smaller breed dogs. Genetics, nutrition, environment; all of these play a role in how fast your dog ages. Many pet parents struggle with the realization that their dog is getting older. But it’s important to recognize the signs of aging and take measures to ensure your dog’s quality of life doesn’t change. Here are some tips to caring for your senior dog:
A Nutritious Diet
Feeding your dog good nutrition is important at any age, but it is critical to keeping them active, playful and healthy in their senior years. Talk with your vet about the type of diet your dog needs. Your vet can make recommendations about quality brands, ingredients or special formulas your senior dog needs to thrive.
As your dog ages they will naturally slow down, but that doesn’t mean that they should become a permanent fixture on the couch. Exercise is so important to keep your dog healthy, both physically and mentally. Continue to bring your dog out for walks, just shorten the distance. Extra pounds on older dogs means more stress on their body, including joints and internal organs. Daily activity even small amounts of it can go a long way in preventing health issues.
Keep up with Grooming
Older pets often appreciate grooming sessions, as you can reach some itchy spots that they no longer can, and the extra attention lavished upon them seems to be especially welcome. It’s a wonderful way to bond with your dog, as well as being a good time to note any changes you may see in your pet; thinning hair, skin irritations, growths or lumps. When bathing your dog take it slow. Senior dogs tend to have painful joints due to arthritis. Their skin also becomes more sensitive and dry and their fur becomes coarse. Use a shampoo that is designed to relieve dry skin and a conditioner to soften up their fur. Our line of organic shampoos and conditioners are all-natural and free from any harsh chemicals that can cause skin irritations. And, our Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo & Conditioner are both specifically formulated for sensitive skin and perfect for senior pets.
Hot spots can make your dog’s day, week, or even month miserable, but it’s especially hard when our senior dogs get hot spots. We just want our older pets to be relaxed and comfortable in their golden years, but as their skin changes they become more susceptible to hot spots. Here are some tips to prevent hot spots:
- Good grooming. Regular use of a soothing shampoo, like our Nourishing Oatmeal & Aloe Shampoo mentioned above, will help reduce skin irritation and inflammation.
- Treating wounds. Be sure to treat cuts, abrasions, irritants or rashes in a timely fashion once discovered. Our Organic Healing Balm is fast acting and calming. After cleaning affected area apply our healing balm to affliction by massaging it gently over wounded area. This is an organic balm and doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals or alcohol so it is cool and soothing on your pet’s sensitive skin.
- Diet. Your veterinarian can help determine if food allergies are a potential cause of itchy skin (and ears and feet). Even if food is not an issue, a high-quality diet will benefit the skin and coat of all dogs, leading to a better defense against dermatitis development.
If your dog does get a hot spot you can treat it naturally without the added chemicals that might further irritate your older dog’s sensitive skin. Our Hot Spot Oil is all- natural and is made with organic golden jojoba oil and organic calendula petals. Jojoba oil has many benefits to your senior dog’s skin, and healing hot spots is just one of them. Calendula is known among medical herbalists as nature’s miracle skin healer. It is used today among clinical herbalists and naturopathic physicians to treat eczema, boils, skin ulcers and pretty much every skin ever suffered. Apply our Hot Spot Oil directly to damaged area. Rub gently and massage in a calming manner to keep your dog still and relaxed. Do not rinse. Apply 3-4 times a day until area begins to heal. Reduce usage as area improves. Some hot spots can result in fever and serious underlying skin problems, so if you see the wound growing rather than improving after a couple of days, it’s time to seek veterinary care.
Regular dental care is important throughout your pet’s life, but it is especially important for senior pets. Tartar build up can cause gingivitis, which can cause bacteria to get into the bloodstream, wreaking havoc on your dog’s organs. A great way to contribute to your senior dog’s good health is to keep his teeth and gums in tip top shape with regular at-home brushing and yearly professional cleanings by your vet.
Senior-Proof Your Home
You may need to make adjustments in your home to make life a little easier on your senior dog. For example, if you live in a two story home climbing the stairs can become very difficult, so keep food and water as well as pet supplies on the ground floor so that your buddy can access what they need without difficulty. If your senior dog’s favorite sleeping area is on a couch he/she can no longer jump onto, help them out with our carefully crafted Ergo Foam Stairs. Our pet stairs feature a gradually angled slope, slightly rounded edges and wider landings. These features make it significantly easier for pets with shorter legs, mobility issues, or old age to climb up to their favorite resting place. And if your dog suffers from a disability, such as blindness, hearing loss, or an inability to walk, talk to your vet about any special accommodations you should make to ease his experience. As they age, our dogs need our care and attention even more. Snuggle up. Take a walk together. Appreciate every moment your pup has to give. It’s up to us to monitor their health and take measures to keep our pets as healthy and happy as possible in their senior years.