The best quality of life for your senior dog

One of the saddest facts of dog-ownership is their short lifespans. With dogs generally not living past 15, and having an average lifespan of 12, caring for them as they reach their golden years is an unavoidable fact of loving them. 

Looking after an elderly dog can be equal parts sad and frustrating. Common issues involve mobility, eyesight, hearing and organ trouble. This can lead to bathroom accidents, unprecedented aggression and weight gain. 

However, your faithful old dog needn’t be miserable. You can help them live out their autumn years in the most dignified and comfortable way. One important thing to note is the age at which dogs are medically considered senior is breed-dependent. Small breeds are considered elderly by the age of 10 or 11, mediums at 8-10, and giants at 5-6. Genetics and your dog’s lifestyle can also impact upon the speed at which they age. 

How to care for your elderly dog 

1. Food

Older dogs do require a different type of care to younger ones. With slower metabolisms, weaker teeth and smaller energy requirements, it is important that you feed them on a different kind of food. Food for senior dogs is lower in calories and fat. Ours has added L-Carnitine, which helps them to maintain a healthy weight and promotes lean muscle development. 

If your dog has a medical condition, consult a vet to see if there is anything you should avoid. Our dog food is hypoallergenic and grain-free, making it safe for consumption by dogs with wheat intolerances. 

2. Exercise

It is important that you keep your dog moving and exercising. Fresh air will do them a world of good, and being active will keep them at a healthy weight. Be gentle though, as your old dog may have a lower stamina than they used to!

3. Regular check-ups at the vet

Your dog will be more likely to develop health problems in later life. You should therefore be proactive and ensure that you keep on top of your dog’s health. Ideally, you should visit the vet once every six months. 

4. Dental health 

A lot of dogs’ teeth are neglected by their owners, which can lead to mouth infections, gingivitis, or tooth loss. You should wash your dog’s teeth every day and give them dental treats. You should also get their teeth professionally cleaned, once a year. It’ll be nicer for everyone that way: No smelly dog breath! 

5. Grooming 

As your dog ages, you may find that its coat becomes lack-lustre and brittle. You should brush and groom your dog every day to avoid the build up of dead skin and hair.  

6. Be accommodating 

Life is harder for an old dog. If they lack mobility in their hips, it can be tricky to walk on some kinds of flooring. If they are blind or deaf, they may also struggle to navigate the house. Put things in place to make life easier for your dogs, such as carpets on hardwood floors, and easily accessible bedding. 

Older dogs also should not climb stairs, so ensure they have all they need on one level and try to avoid them going up and down. 

Most importantly: Treasure every moment 

It is a disgraceful, yet common, occurrence for people to send their aged dogs to shelters. This is often due to the fact that the owner failed to consider the fact that their pet may require extra attention as they grow older, when they first bought a puppy. Caring for elderly dogs takes a wealth of patience, empathy and altruism, that is not possessed by everyone. 

Old dogs sent to shelters are most frequently euthanised, and they will spend their last few days heartbroken, anxious and lonely. An old dog needs their owner to be close by. Spoil your dog, give them all of the treats and affection in the world, give them amazing experiences and make your last memories with the ones that you can cherish forever.

When the time to say goodbye does come, all you can do is make sure that you have allowed your dog to live a good life. To your dog, you are everything: They are entirely dependent on you for their existence. With this in mind, do not let them down. 

Before purchasing a puppy, think about the entire lifespan of your dog. Understanding the level of commitment required when raising a dog can be the difference between a happy and rewarding relationship, and abuse and neglect.