November is National Senior Dog Month. Whether you have a senior dog or are looking to adopt a senior dog, we dedicate the month of November to our white-faced pals. Due to advances in medicine and nutrition, our dogs are living longer and healthier lives. If you are a dog lover, check out these tips to make your senior’s life a little bit better.
Adopt Don’t Shop
November is also Adopt a Senior Pet Month. So, if you are considering adding a new four-legged friend to your family, look no further than your local animal rescue and open your heart to a senior dog. It’s an unfortunate fact that senior pets are the last to be adopted from shelters. When you rescue a senior dog, you are most likely saving their life. Bonus points for adopting a senior dog, they are all grown out of the puppy stage and most likely you won’t have to “puppy proof” your house. No need to hide your slippers, phone cords or lock down the trash bin. Most seniors are already house trained, so another treat for you the human! No 3am walks around the yard or “uh oh” accidents on the rug.
How Old Is Old?
Human years vs dog years is quite different. In addition, aging in little dogs vs. big dogs is also quite different. What age is your dog considered a senior? While every pet ages differently due to health, exercise and nutrition, larger breed dogs tend to have shorter life spans than smaller dog breeds. For dogs that are over 50 lbs, age 6 is generally when they are considered entering their senior years. For dogs under 50 lbs, 8 years and older are when they will be qualifying for the “early bird special.”
As your pet ages, it’s important to stay diligent on regular veterinary care. Stay up to date on vaccines and make your annual visits to check on any new medical conditions your dog may have. Common health problems for senior pets may include: arthritis, cancer, lumps and bumps, dental disease, heart disease as well as neurological issues. Most of these can be helped or treated by your veterinarian. Some of these can cause severe discomfort, so the first signs of aging should be your cue to schedule a vet visit.
Living with a senior dog doesn’t have to be overwhelming, if you are considering adopting a mature dog. But there are simple things a dog mom or dog dad can do to make their life even better. Hardwood floors and tile can be slippery for your senior dog. Make sure you have many rugs to navigate their path through the home. Elevated food bowls for drinking and eating can make their mealtimes better for digestion. Multiple water stations are also helpful for your senior. Ramps are great for the couch, the stairs and especially in and out of the car. If your senior dog loves car rides, but can’t do the big jump in and out, ramps are perfect. If your dog chooses to sleep on the floor, an orthopedic dog bed will provide them with comfort. Lastly, harnesses for helping a dog up and outside to potty are also valuable tools to make your life and their life easier.