If you are you are not alone.
Did you Know Your Dog is Considered Senior at the Age of 7?
No, I didn’t either, that’s just 49 years in dog to human years - so that makes me ancient! However, much of how they age depends on their breed, whether they are large or small and their general health such as their weight, how much exercise they get and their nutrition.
A senior dog still requires a healthy exercise program, good food and plenty of love, however you may have to make some adjustments to your daily routine to accommodate your dogs senior needs, such as long walks on less challenging trails, food based on senior nutritional needs, play that isn’t as rambunctious and hugs that are more gentle.
All Dogs Age Differently
Of course all dogs age differently, just like people, however if we are aware of our pups needs we can ensure that they continue having a happy and fulfilled life. And, just like us, as we get older we tend to have less abundant energy and instead we like to kick back and enjoy watching the young pups cavorting and frolicking in the long grass, whilst we lay happily in the sun.
Five Senior Dog Behaviors to Look For
Changes in Responsiveness
Dazed and Confused
As your pup ages she may just be slowing down, alternatively the slow down might be caused by some joint pain. Therefore you may have to reduce the number of miles you share together on the trails, but plenty of fresh air and exercise is good for the spirit and it is an adventure you have always shared together so be sure to continue with your hikes, just take it easy. Joint pain can be helped with a special food for senior dogs or additives that can help with joint mobility. There are even some high value dog treats that support joint health because they contain natural glucosamine chondroitin (such as beef esophagus) and general senior well being as they are packed with protein, B vitamins and antioxidants, also your vet or local pet store can help with useful suggestions.
Changes in Responsiveness
Like us, as we age, we do not hear or see as well as we once did, and the same happens to our fur babies. As they age so their responsiveness to our commands slow, or even fail. Have patience, a fun project for you both is to re-train and learn some hand signals. You can either go to a class or find some hand training tips on YouTube. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, balderdash! Knowledge and learning stimulate the brain and contribute to overall holistic happiness.
Dazed and Confused
Sometimes older dogs seem confused and disorientated even in a familiar setting, the first few times this happens they might be agitated however if it becomes a common occurrence they eventually calm down. Ensure your garden/yard has a secure fence so that they do not inadvertently wander off. This confusion may be a symptom of cognitive dysfunction, which suggests natural cognitive decline. Your vet may be able to prescribe drugs such as selegiline hydrochloride to treat cognitive dysfunction syndrome and relieve the symptoms.
As dogs age they sometimes develop sensitivity to loud noises or thunder, they develop separation anxiety or they become defensive when they are around other dogs, even though they have never exhibited such behavior in the past. This can be distressing for both you and your dog and some of this may be due to the decline of their sight or hearing, or they may be experiencing pain. Again, check with your vet about anti-anxiety medication and I know some people use CBD (please get professional advice before administering).
Unfortunately as some dogs age they forget their home training and drop their trousers inside the house. An animal behaviorist may be able to help with re-training your pup. After all dog training is learning how to communicate your boundaries to your pup, it is part of life’s rich journey with your fur babies and we all benefit from re-training.
So your girl/dude is getting older and may be slowing down, however we can still ensure their life is comfortable with a heated dog bed to ease their joints and help them sleep more soundly. There are also plenty of dog mind games available to keep your pup entertained, because although your dog may be slowing down if you can keep her mind active she will not decline so rapidly. An active mind will ensure she will be more attentive and focused. Please stay patient and informed about your dog’s health so you can encourage them to have a safe, happy and chillaxed senior lifestyle.
Quality of life is about retaining your dignity and sharing high quality, healthy dog treats.