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7 Things You Should Avoid When Caring For A Senior Dog

As our pooches age, they will require special care and attention to maintain their health and happiness.

Senior dogs can be some of the most loving and loyal pets, but they also need a different approach to their care than their younger selves.

7 Things You Should Avoid When Caring for a Senior Dog

Being a dog owner is one of the best experiences in life, but it also harbors a lot of responsibility. For instance, you need to be aware of the potential challenges that come with caring for a dog as he or she ages.

“Woof! Hey, I might not be as young and limber as I used to be, but I still want to be happy and healthy. Can you help me out a bit?”

Of course, buddy! Let’s find out what I can do to keep you happy and healthy for as long as possible!

Today, we will explore 7 things you should avoid when caring for a senior dog, including some common mistakes you may be making without even realising it.

Key Points

There are numerous things you should avoid when caring for older dogs. By doing so, you can ensure they live a happy, healthy life and remain fitter for longer.

For example, you shouldn’t force them to do anything they don’t want to do, ignore symptoms of pain or discomfort, or give them a poor-quality diet.

A senior dog should be enjoying their golden years, so listen to them and follow their lead.

They might experience changes to their bodies and minds which can be scary, so caring for them with empathy is essential.

Offer them high-quality food, a good low-impact exercise regime, and spend plenty of quality time with them.

Avoid These 7 Things When Caring For A Senior Dog

1. Trying To Get Your Dog To Do Things They Don’t Want To Do

“Woof! I don’t feel like playing right now. I’d like to sit and sleep.”

Senior dogs tend to be like senior people; they have their habits and don’t feel like changing them.

Also, senior dogs do not have as much energy as when they were younger, so play times may not be as often or as long as they once were.

Dogs have their own will. Yes, you can love and care for them as much as possible, but they will eventually do what they want to do.

This can range from what toys they prefer playing with to how much exercise they feel like doing.

So, don’t force your pooch to play if they just want to lie down. Forcing them into a situation where they are uncomfortable will make them unhappy.

2. Treatment Delay

“Woof! I don’t feel so well. Can you help me?”

If your dog has started to act differently than usual, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue. Yes, older dogs will suffer from aches and pains, but you should still get them checked out.

Some symptoms that need immediate attention include:

  • Lethargy and/or signs of depression
  • Difficulty when breathing
  • Not wanting to move much or sit up
  • Limping

Most senior dogs (around 90 percent) will suffer from health issues, such as arthritis. Fortunately, medication, such as Rimadyl, can help relieve pain and arthritis.

You should also never ignore any changes in your pooch’s behavior. Pay close attention to your fur buddy’s eating habits to ensure they are normal.

Also, senior dogs can be more prone to behavioral problems, such as separation anxiety and aggression, and their sleeping patterns can change. Consult with a veterinarian for further help and support.

3. Leaving Your Dog Alone For Too Long

“Woof! I miss you! Please don’t leave me alone all day.”

If you leave any dog at any age alone for extended periods of time, they may become lonely and distressed as they are accustomed to being around people.

As social creatures, dogs require companionship, and it’s advised that pets shouldn’t be left alone for over four hours at any given time.

Being left alone for extended periods may cause more significant issues for senior dogs as they can suffer more stress and anxiety as they age.

This can manifest in problematic behaviors such as excessive barking or destructive tendencies.

4. A Poor Quality Diet

7 Things You Should Avoid When Caring for a Senior Dog (2)

“Woof! My belly hurts. I think I ate something bad.”

It goes without saying, but you must feed a dog a high-quality diet to keep them happy and healthy, whatever age they are.

Avoid cheap, low-quality dog food as these are likely to contain artificial ingredients that can result in health issues.

You may need to feed older dogs smaller portions of food throughout the day but still stay within their daily allowance.

Rather than feeding them dog treats, you can provide vitamins and minerals through fruits and veg, such as apples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and carrots.

Some ingredients to try and avoid include:

  • Additives and preservatives, like BHA or BHT. These can cause cancer over time, which becomes more likely as your dog ages.
  • Too many carbohydrates, such as corn syrup and sugar. These can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and other health complications that can affect older dogs more commonly and could shorten your dog’s life.
  • Artificial colors and flavors. These can be harmful over time.

Ask your vet to recommend food for your senior pooch so you can meet their dietary requirements.

“Woof! I don’t like this new food. It makes me feel sick.”

As a dog ages, their diet will need to change to suit their slower metabolism and meet their dietary needs. But, before altering your pet’s diet, consult with a veterinarian first.

If you need to change their diet, do so gradually over a week or so. Mix a little bit of their new food with their regular food to avoid stomach upsets and possible diarrhea.

The food should include healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals, and fiber, to help them stay healthy as they get older.

Examples of good quality dog foods include Purina Pro Plan and Wellness Core Dog Food.

5. Neglecting Dental Health

“Woof! My teeth hurt when I bite into my favorite treat.”

Dental problems are common in senior dogs, and neglecting their oral health can lead to tooth loss, gum disease, and other health issues.

Regular dental check-ups and teeth cleaning are essential to maintain their overall health.

As your dog ages, their teeth can also become more brittle and can break more easily. This can lead to pain and higher vet bills for you. Age is strongly associated with the increased risk of dental disease.

Food can play a big part in dental issues in senior dogs. Consider softening their dry food with water, or splitting their calorie intake between wet and dry food to take the pressure off their gums.

6. Not Providing Enough Warmth And Comfort

“Woof! I know I’m covered in fur but I can get cold too.”

Senior dogs are more sensitive to cold and require extra warmth and comfort. Ensure they have a comfortable and warm place to rest, and provide extra blankets or a heated bed.

For instance, let them sleep in a room with heating and in a cozy bed, not on a cold floor, such as kitchen tiles.

7. Overexertion

“Woof! I’m tired so I better rest before playing again.”

Senior dogs are more prone to injuries and strains, so avoiding excessive exercise or activities that could cause them harm is important.

You should also be aware of their limits and adjust their exercise routine accordingly.

An orthopedic bed could be a great addition to your dog’s routine, as this takes the pressure off of their painful joints and makes it more comfortable for them to relax.

These beds aren’t too expensive and they can make a world of difference in your senior dog’s life.

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