WE CONSIDER DOGS “SENIORS” WHEN THEY REACH
7 YEARS OF AGE,
on average, depending on breed. At this life stage, dogs are more at risk for certain health problems. That’s why we recommend bi-annual wellness visits.
Every loving dog owner wishes their canine companions can live forever, but we all know we can’t make that happen. What we can do is help them reach their golden years gracefully and comfortably so they can live beyond the “average lifespan.” Early detection is key to preventing diseases and minimizing age-related pain, which is why we’d like to conduct a comprehensive wellness exam at least twice a year. We’ll update any necessary vaccines as well during these visits. We may also recommend laboratory testing, including a senior blood panel, urinalysis, and thyroid hormone testing, as a proactive approach.
Common Physical Changes in Senior Dogs
As the person who spends every day with your pet, you also play a role in early detection simply by knowing what signs to look for. Some of the most common physiological changes we see in senior dogs include:
- Vision or other eye problems
- Bad breath
- Bumps on the skin or hair loss
- Weight change
- Reduced hearing
- Muscle mass loss
- Lameness, difficulty getting up, or walking stiffly
Senior Dog Care Tips
We love senior dogs, and we are committed to being here for yours throughout every stage of life. In addition to bringing your senior dog to Harlingen Veterinary Clinic at least twice a year and checking for physiological changes, the following tips can enable you to help them enjoy their golden years:
- Adjust Their Diet: Because senior dogs aren’t as active as younger dogs, many don’t require as many calories, so we recommend reducing the caloric intake by about 20% for some dogs. We may also recommend a specific dog food designed for senior dogs. We can discuss our recommendations for your dog at your next visit.
- Provide Exercise Opportunities: Just like humans, dogs naturally won’t have the same speed, strength, or energy that they did when then they were younger, but exercise is still important. We recommend short walks several times a week to slow down the progression of arthritis and stimulate cognitive capacity, but keep an eye on them as they walk; check for signs of tiring. Some senior dogs can handle 20-to-30-minute walks while others can only handle 10 or 15.
- Accommodate Physical Limitations: Some senior dogs develop arthritis or just aren’t as able to jump or climb steps as well as they used to. If your dog is one of them, keep these limitations in mind and make the necessary accommodations to allow them to get around the house comfortably. Provide ramps, eliminate their need to climb steps, move furniture, etc.