No-one wants to think about how (relatively) short the lives of our doggy companions are.
They may reach old age sooner than we’d like, but with some small changes in lifestyle and appropriate healthcare, senior dogs have still got what it takes to be our best pals.
Or, to put it another way…. Senior. Dogs. Are. Awesome.
As with most things dog, the number varies a bit on what’s considered old age. According to world renowned expert, Cesar Millan, you could say it’s around 8 years old, with it being a bit earlier for larger breeds and a bit later for the smaller ones, on average.
Are there any tell tale signs?
Yes. As your dog ages, they will begin to slow down and will appear to have less energy. They may tire more easily and you might notice their head dropping or more panting than usual when you’re out on a walk – both signs of tiring. The Blue Cross has more signs to watch out for here such as:
- Weight loss due to changes in your dog’s ability to digest food
- Their coat might look a bit less glossy than normal
- They might also put on weight due to reduced exercise (so be careful with those treats)
- Like us, joint stiffness is common in older dogs. If you can, you could consider lifting them in and out of the car or getting a ramp if they are too big. They might also struggle to get up and down stairs in the house.
What else should I look out for?
Dental care is particularly important when caring for your senior dog. If your dog gets bad breath (or worse then usual) you might need a trip to the vet. See why dental care is so important in our earlier post, here. As your dog ages, their immune system could weaken meaning that infections brought on by poor dental health are much more likely to turn into something serious. And even though anaesthetics have got a lot more advanced in recent years, if you can avoid your dog having to undergo a general anaesthetic to clean their teeth, this has got to be a good thing. So, get brushing. It could make a big difference to your gorgeous golden oldie.
Click Here to see more symptoms that the Blue Cross recommend a trip to vet for, and in general, most experts believe that stepping up your dog’s check ups at the vet to twice a year once they are senior is a good thing, as the earlier you catch any problems, the better they can be treated.
The Kennel Club has some advice.
Can You Teach An Old Dog, New Tricks?
Yes. And its good for them!
If your dogs liked to chew, chase, fetch or tug when there were younger, chances are, they still do and with a few modifications, they still can.
Hi-Vis balls can help if your dog has fading eye-sight. Softer rubber chews might be an alternative to hard bones as they will be kinder on your senior dog’s teeth and gums. Puzzles are a good way to keep your dog’s mind active and are kind on joints.
Here are 10 suggestions from Petmd.com to keep your senior dog occupied.
Senior dogs are often over-looked in shelters and rescue centres, but they can make the ideal dog. Here are five reasons why:
- An old dog is less likely to develop behaviour issues
- A senior dog will come already house trained
- Lower energy levels mean a senior dog will require less exercise so if you think you haven’t got time to walk a dog, consider giving a senior doggy-citizen a home
- They can make the ideal first dog as they are likely to already know the basic commands
- Senior dogs know how to love and live with humans. You might think you’re rescuing them, but they will probably rescue you right back
If you’re thinking of adopting an older dog, check out Oldies Club on our Adopt A Dog page. They work with charities and shelters all over the country to highlight some gorgeous senior woofers looking for a loving home.
And as if we needed any further convincing at the all round awesomeness of senior dogs here are some fabulous pictures to warm the heart. Taken by acclaimed photographer Pete Thorne and titled Old Faithful, we think they capture the character and love that these wonderful old souls have to share with us. Bet they bring a smile to your face….. we’re following the project on Facebook you can too, click here for more senior dog gorgeousness.
Have you got a senior dog? We’d love to hear their stories and see some pictures. If you’d like to share them, get in touch in the comments or email us at email@example.com