All dogs age differently.
Generally speaking, larger dogs will age faster compared to smaller breeds. For example, a Golden Retriever can be considered a senior by 8-10 years of age, whereas a Chihuahua would only be considered senior around 10-11 years. Your dog's nutrition, genetics, and environment, all affect how fast your dog ages.
Here are a couple of things to expect when your dog ages:
They may develop arthritis or other joint-related diseases which could cause them to slow down. Or they may become more susceptible to other diseases. This is only natural - after all, humans age in a similar manner, don't they?
When and if this does occur, you will notice that they may not be able to walk as far or play as much as they used to and you will realize that they get tired easily. They may also have difficulties going up or down the stairs or even getting out of a car.
But let's not despair and simply accept the effects of ageing - here are a few tips to improve the life of old dogs to ensure they stay healthy as long as possible:
Improve their diet
It's important to have good nutrition at any age, but even more when they're more advanced. It will allow them to continue being active and playful.
You can talk about this with your vet as they can make good recommendations about food choices and forms or any specific ingredients that will help your dog remain active.
Our in-house pet nutritionists recommend choosing food rich in antioxidants and omega 3 nutrients. Alternatively, you can supplement their diet with Salmon Oil, Green-Lipped Mussel, and a joint supplement that contains fish collagen.
Monitor their weight
You want to ensure your dog isn't underweight or overweight.
As they age, dogs typically don't exercise as much as they used to and you will find them laying around more often than before - increasing the likelihood of weight gain.
For every extra kilogram they gain, their body will be under that much more stress which may affect their joints and/or internal organs.
As you adjust their diet to reduce weight, pay close attention to their intake of necessary vitamins and other nutrients. In some cases, a supplement can be used to ensure this.
Weight loss regimes can be stressful for the body as they affect normal digestion and liver functions. To ensure your dog remains healthy through this phase, it may be useful to supplement their diet with a product like Diet Support that enables successful weight loss.
Plenty of exercise
Make sure your dog still exercises and plays around. Even if your dog is slowing down he or she still needs to go out and get their muscles pumping with blood.
If they don't like to go on very long walks or hikes, please note that even small walks are beneficial. Instead of skipping long walks, increase the frequency of shorter ones.
Remember, exercise gets the blood flowing in and out of the heart and into their muscles, enhancing their overall longevity.
Most importantly, regular exercise helps them dodge a great number of health issues.
Make sure to see your vet
Setup a schedule with your vet and make sure you visit the vet regularly.
Early diagnosis is sometimes key to treatment of age-related problems and many health issues develop much faster at this tender age so it's important to see the veterinary doctor or nurse as frequently as possible.
Check their teeth
Regular teeth checks are also important as your dog ages.
Dog's teeth are often neglected, with tartar build-ups that can cause bacteria to get into the bloodstream, spreading infection through the body. More on dental health here.
You can try to brush your dog's teeth, if possible, to help them stay clean and healthy. You can also try products like Denta Sticks that are easy to administer.
Keep your dog engaged
Just because your dog isn't showing as much affection, it doesn't mean you should hold yourself back. Don't hesitate to give them extra hugs and belly rubs.
If they may feel uninterested in their favourite old toys it might be time to get them new ones to keep them occupied as they love new discoveries.
Also, you might want to change their treats to softer ones.
You can get them a food puzzlem, which keeps them entertained but also helps with weight loss.
Lastly, if they don't have one already, get them a nice and comfy pet bed to ensure they get a good rest and are energised for the next day.