November is Senior Dog Month. If you live with a senior dog you know it is a year-round joy to share your life together, but we love that a month is designated to highlight the benefits and bond we share with our dogs (both senior and younger.) If you’ve ever wondered how to celebrate the senior dog, we have some ideas!
Every one ages and our dogs are no different. Thanks, though, to advances in veterinary medicine, our dogs can live longer, healthier lives and every day a pet parent gets to spend with his or her dog is a gift. As a pet parent and your pet’s caregiver, there are many ways you can enrich his or her life and make the time you both spend together as enjoyable and active as possible. Ask any pet parent and he or she will tell you, “when you have a dog by your side, you never walk alone.”
Did you know?
Many veterinarians consider dogs to be seniors when they are seven-years-old? That seems so young, but when you consider that dogs age faster than their humans, it does make sense. Some veterinarians even consider large breed dogs to be seniors when they are five-years-old! Small breeds typically live longer than the large or giant breeds.
How To Celebrate The Senior Dog
Recognizing the signs of aging in your dog
You may notice that your dog is “slowing down.” Maybe she doesn’t want to play fetch for as many minutes as she did previously. Perhaps he naps more frequently than he did in the past. She may want to turn around and take a shorter walk than she typically does. You may find that your dog is walking more tentatively on hardwood or slick floors and that she isn’t as enthusiastic about her dog toys.
An older dog may have less patience with young, active children or around young, active dogs. Your senior dog may appear confused and may not be as responsive to your voice than he was when he was younger. She may be hard of hearing or her eyesight may be failing.
You may also find your senior dog is having “accidents” in the house, when that is something he hasn’t done since he was a puppy.
This is a time for the pet parent to be more patient. Your beloved fur baby has no control over his aging body. He only knows “something” is changing and that may make him frightened and more of a Velcro dog than he was when he was younger.
Your aging dog may require more frequent visits to the veterinarian and may suffer various health problems including:
- Hearing loss
- Kidney disease
How can you help your senior dog enjoy a long and happy life?
- Vet visits. You may need to visit every six months instead of annually. Your vet may recommend wellness exams and more frequent health screenings. Budget now for lab work and diagnostic testing your veterinarian may recommend.
- Take shorter, less strenuous walks. You and your dog may have enjoyed long walks in the woods or climbing mountains, but he may not be able to keep up. You don’t have to curtail your walks completely, just be aware of your dog’s endurance and adjust your walk accordingly.
- Slippery floors can lead to slips and falls. Put down carpet runners or look for toe guards that slip over your dog’s toenails and help him grip the floor and feel safer.
- If your dog has trouble getting into our out of the car or onto or off the bed, invest in ramps to help her. You don’t want her to fall and injure herself doing an activity she has done for her entire life.
- If your dog doesn’t sleep in bed with you, invest in a high quality orthopedic bed for him. He will be more comfortable on a bed that will cradle his aching bones and body.
- Incontinence is an issue and you can help with that by taking your dog outside more frequently. Put down puppy pee pads in the house, and show him where they are, for those times when you simply don’t make it out of doors in time.
- Ask your veterinarian for suggestions on a healthy, high quality food recommendation for your aging pet.
- Ask your vet if your pet should be on supplements that will help support her aging body.
- Keep a notebook and pay attention to any health conditions or concerns you notice.
- Be patient. Offer your pet additional tender loving care and belly rubs.
Do you share your life with a senior dog (or cat)? What can you do to celebrate your dog’s senior-ness?
Robbi Hess, Woman In The Pet Industry Solopreneur Finalist and award-winning author, is multi-petual. She shares her life with her senior poodle, Henrietta (she’s 13), and her senior ginger cat, Parker (he’s 16). When not caring for her pets or taking them on walks, she is a speaker, efficiency and effectiveness guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words Matter, My Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof/Crimeless Cat.