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Helping Your Senior Dog Age Gracefully

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senior dog

Dogs are classified as “senior” when they reach 75% of their projected life span. With this in mind, a larger breed such as a Great Dane typically becomes a senior at age 8, while a toy breed such as a toy poodle isn’t senior until around age 12.  For a senior dog, mobility begins to be limited, sight and hearing aren’t as sharp as before, and mental clarity may begin declining.

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There are some steps senior dog guardians can take that will help their pets enjoy their golden years.  Here are a few suggestions:

Mobility issues

  • Dog Stairs to help your dog access higher surfaces like the couch or bed
  • Ramps help dogs get into cars or up stairs
  • Massage and/or acupuncture.  Both can help relieve the pain and joint stiffness of arthritis
  • Orthopedic bed.  These beds help ease joint stiffness and make it more comfortable for senior pets to rest and relax.
  • If you have wood floors and your senior dog slips often, consider Dr. Buzby’s Toe Grips.  They go on your dog’s nails and provide traction on slippery surfaces.

Dental Disease

  • Regularly scheduled home exams.  Preferably monthly, check your dog’s teeth and gums for signs of inflammation, sores and redness.  Also check for broken teeth
  • Dental cleaning.  Senior dogs should visit the vet every six months for a wellness exam and have a dental cleaning.

Vision And Hearing Loss

  • Similar to us, dog’s vision and hearing become less sharp as they age.  To prevent startling a dog that may be visually impaired, call his name, shuffle your feet or clap as you approach. For dogs with some hearing loss, use hand signals rather than verbal signals to communicate.

Cognitive Decline

Some senior dogs suffer from Canine Cognitive Disorder (CCD) that is comparable to Alzheimer’s Disease in humans.  Signs your dog may be suffering from CCD include:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Disorientation
  • Changes in interaction

Some ways to keep your dog mentally stimulated include:

  • Exercise
  • Social interaction with people and other dogs
  • Puzzle toys that require your dog to solve a problem to get the treat

There are dietary changes and nutritional supplements that may offer some relieve from the symptoms of CCD.  Consult your veterinarian for more information on what would work best for your dog.

A dog’s golden years can be great with a few changes and lots of TLC.


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