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How To Assess Your Senior Dog's Quality Of Life

As an owner, it’s down to you to make reasonable judgments and assessments about the quality of life your senior dog has.

How To Assess Your Senior Dog's Quality Of Life

Still, as a first-time owner of a senior dog, we understand that this can be slightly challenging, which is why we’ve put together this guide to help you to assess your senior dog’s quality of life. 

“As I get older, things begin to ache a little more after play time than they used to! But there’s plenty that my human can do to keep me comfortable as I enjoy my golden years. Woof woof!”

Key Takeaways

  • Assessing your senior dog’s quality of life is difficult but important to ensure they’re happy and healthy
  • You need to consider things such as their physical and mental health, their environment, as well as any medical issues they may have
  • Your veterinarian will be able to help you make important decisions on your dog’s life, including saying goodbye to your canine companion

Understanding Quality Of Life In Senior Dogs

“As we doggies get on into the later years of our lives, it’s important for our humans to understand how they can help us adjust to the physical and mental changes we experience. 

By understanding more about your dog’s quality of life, you’ll be able to ensure that they spend their final years with you comfortably and happily.

What Is Quality Of Life?

The term “quality of life” is exactly what it sounds like and refers to your dog’s happiness and overall well-being, both physically and mentally. 

“If my quality of life isn’t quite what it used to be, then it can make me rather unhappy, especially when the golden years are meant to be some of the best times spent with my human family.”

Factors Affecting Quality Of Life In Senior Dogs

Three main factors can influence your dog’s quality of life. These include their physical health, their mental health, and the environment in which they live. 

“Us senior pooches tend to be affected by health conditions too, such as arthritis, and dementia, which can make old age scary for us. And being in an environment where we don’t feel safe or comfortable can only make things worse!”

How To Assess Your Senior Dog’s Quality Of Life

How To Assess Your Senior Dog’s Quality Of Life_

As the owner of a senior dog, it’s important to make sure that your dog’s quality of life is the best it can be, and you can do this by making regular assessments using these three key aspects, which we’ll take a deeper look into below. 

Physical Examination

A physical assessment is the first step to assessing your canine companion’s quality of life. Check their eyes, skin, coat, body condition, teeth, and gums.

Try to find any unusual lumps or bumps, and keep an eye out for your dog showing any signs of discomfort. 

It’s also important to keep an eye on your dog’s overall mobility, which might decrease if they develop arthritis or other mobility issues. 

“It’s not my usual pet, but my human made sure to give me a treat afterward, so I won’t complain! Woof!”

Behavioral Assessment

Next, you’ll also want to ensure that your dog’s cognitive ability is still good. Cognitive decline can look like disorientation, confusion, forgetfulness, as well as an avoidance of activities they used to enjoy. 

If your dog used to love being social but now tends to avoid crowded or loud situations, it might mean their mental health is declining. 

“In my old age, I have to say that loud crowds don’t excite me anymore, I’d rather just cuddle with my favorite human instead!”

Assessing The Environment

Finally, your dog’s environment is also important to consider when assessing their quality of life. A senior dog usually tends to prefer softer bedding and more accessible food and water bowls. 

“Sudden changes in my environment can also upset me too, so it’s best to try and keep it as stable as possible!”

Common Health Issues Affecting Quality Of Life In Senior Dogs

Common Health Issues Affecting Quality Of Life In Senior Dogs_ (1)

Part of ensuring that your pooch has the best years of their life as they get older is coming to terms with some of the conditions that can affect them in their old age. 

“I have no idea what my human is on about, I’m just as spry as when I was a puppy! Although, my legs do ache a little more after our walks…”

Arthritis And Mobility Issues

One of the biggest issues for senior dogs is arthritis and their mobility. It affects 4 out of 5 dogs, and although it’s especially common in larger and heavier breeds, it has a chance of affecting any dog out there. 

Symptoms include limping, lameness, reluctance to be active, stiffness, and difficulty walking and jumping as they usually would. 

Cognitive Decline And Dementia

Another major issue in senior dogs is Dementia, which, like us humans, can cause severe disorientation, loss of recognition and appetite, as well as dramatic changes in their behavior. 

“Us doggies also tend to experience some cognitive decline as we get older, so don’t be too mad if we forget our housetraining and have an accident in the house, or don’t sleep as well as we used to!”

Pain And Discomfort

There are other forms of pain and discomfort that your dog can experience as they grow older. This might come in the form of dental issues, digestive problems, or even cancer. 

Change of appetite and unexplained crying or aggression are common signs your dog is in pain, which means they’ll need to be evaluated by their vet. 

Other Chronic Conditions

“Unfortunately, these chronic conditions aren’t the only ones that can affect our quality of life, as things such as diabetes, kidney failure, heart disease, and hypothyroidism, can all cause me issues!” 

How To Improve Your Senior Dog’s Quality Of Life

While it might all seem rather bleak, you can do plenty of things to help improve your dog’s quality of life in their golden years. So long as you follow the advice we provide, you’ll be able to make the best out of the time you have left. 

Veterinary Care And Regular Checkups

Veterinary Care And Regular Checkups​

One of the key aspects of ensuring your senior doggy is looked after is to ensure that they visit the veterinarian regularly. This should be done at least two times a year and will allow the vet to ensure that your dog is normal and healthy. 

“I don’t like the vet much, but if it means I get to spend more time with my human, I won’t complain, woof!”

Proper Nutrition And Exercise

Another important part of improving your dog’s quality of life is ensuring they receive proper nutrition and exercise. 

Senior dogs struggle to absorb the nutrients they used to, which means that swapping out for a specialist senior dog food might be a good idea, but it’s best to consult your vet on that. 

Meanwhile, you should still exercise your senior pooch regularly, but without overexerting them, create and stick to a routine that prioritizes low-impact exercise. 

“My human takes me to the sea and lakes much more often than we used to, maybe they’ve begun to like me shaking my wet coat everywhere?”

Mental Stimulation And Enrichment

Mental stimulation and enrichment are also important and can be supplemented by engaging your dog with treat puzzles, smell games, and other games that will help keep your senior pooch thinking. 

“It’s a toy! With a treat inside! Woof woof!”

Home Modifications And Assistance Devices

Finally, be sure to help your dog in any way you can with the aid of assistance devices.

Raising their food bowls will help them to eat without straining themselves, and adding non-slip mats will help them to walk without falling over. Softer bedding is also recommended to help ease their joints at the end of a long day! 

Making End-Of-Life Decisions

Making End-Of-Life Decisions​

It’s a tough topic but an important one. Knowing when to say goodbye to your loved one is hard, but ensuring they’re not in any pain or suffering is important. 

“I trust my human will make a good judgment on when it’s time for me to go across the Rainbow Bridge, and if it means that I’m not in any pain, then even better.” 

When Is It Time To Say Goodbye?

As your dog ages, health conditions and issues can severely impact their quality of life, causing extreme pain in some cases. 

Your veterinarian will always be able to advise you on what is best for you and your dog so that you can decide when you say goodbye to your canine companion. 

Where To Say Goodbye: Vets Vs Home - Pros And Cons

People’s opinions on where to say goodbye to their dog can differ, and it’s ultimately a personal decision. 

Some pet parents prefer to have their beloved dog put down at the vet’s clinic, where they can then be sent for cremation.

Others prefer to have a vet visit to their home so that their dog is kept surrounded by loved ones in a familiar setting, reducing the stress induced by the vets.

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