How to Take Care of an Old Dog

One year or a human is about 7 years for a dog. So unfortunately, a dog will age much faster than his or her owner. Middle age for a dog is around 7 years old, and a dog is 'senior' around 10 years old.  However, this can vary from breed to breed. Great Danes only live to be about 10 years old, for example, so the senior years come earlier for this breed. Smaller dogs, such as Jack Russell Terriers, may live to be around 15 years old. I know someone who had a Jack Russell that lived to be 21!

As your dog ages, it is sad to see your faithful friend struggle with the stairs, or have to have teeth removed. Be happy that your dog has lived such a wonderful long life with you. Remember, there are things that you can do to help your older dog and make his or her life more comfortable.


Milo the Jack Russell Terrier at 12 years oldCredit: Amy Trumpeter

Feeding an Older Dog

As your dog ages, his or her teeth and digestion may not be as good as they used to be. If your dog will let you, it is a good idea to brush your dogs teeth to keep bacteria away.

After around 10 years old, you can consider a senior dog food that will be better for your older dog's digestion system. It may also help your older dog to be fed more frequently.My Jack Russell terrier, Milo, is now around 13 years old. He likes Bakers complete senior. Greenies, Ceasar and Pedigree Chum also do good quality senior dog food.

Instead of one large meal once a day, two meals a day (morning and night) may be better for digestion in an older dog.

Exercising your Older Dog

All dogs need exercise, including older dogs. But as your pooch reaches his or her senior years, he or she may slow down and need less exercise. You could shorten walks if they start to become a struggle, or avoid difficult stairs. If your pet is getting too tired during walks, or coughing frequently, you should take him or her to the vets  to be checked.

Joints and Stiffness

As your pet ages, he or she will get some stiffness in the joints. As long as he or she is not in pain, there is a lot that you can do to help him or her to be comfortable in those later years of life. A suitable and comfortable bed is essential for an ageing pooch. Consider a dog bed memory foam, as it will support the joints and relieve pressure.

There are also certain chews and treats particularly developed for strong bones and joints. Pedigree do food particularly developed for healthy joints. Get naked organic dog chews have developed a special chew for healthy joints.

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Health in Older Dogs

As your dog gets older, it may be a good idea to visit your vet for more frequent check ups on top of the usual visits for vaccinations and worming. Of course, if you notice anything unusual or uncomfortable for your dog, seek vetenary attention immediately. The earlier you can catch probles such as arthritis or cancer, the more that your vet will be able to do to keep your dog to stay comfortable in his or her elderly years.

Take your pet to the vet if there are any sudden changes in eating or drinking. Also check for any unusual lumps or bumps. Take your bitch to the vet if you notice any unusual vaginal discharge, as this could indicate a womb infection. Also look out for any fits or coughing.

Keep watch on your older dog's sight and hearing. You can tell if something is wrong with his or her hearing when he or se stops responding to you. Bumping into things could be a sign of a sight problem such as cataracts.

Some older dogs have bowel and urinary problems, which means that they may be prone to accidents as they get older. This is particularly problematic in females. If your poor pooch has gone to the toilet outside for pretty much the whole of his or her adult life, he or she will be embarrased about accidents. So try to avoid scalding your dog, just clean it up and ignore it. Continue to praise and reward when they do manage to go outside.

Pet Insurance for Older Dogs

As your dog ages, vets bills can become extremely expensive. It is a good idea to get pet insurance, which will cover any surprise health problems. Pet insurance can be expensive, but the cost is spread out, and much better than being faced with a massive $5000.00 vet bill.

It is important that you understand what you pet insurance covers. For example, it may only cover up to a certain amount for an individual condition. That means that if your dog needs treatment for life for a condition such as epilepsy or diabetes, there may be a point when the insurance cover runs out, and you will have to continue to pay for the treatment.

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