Navigating Aging with Your “Good Ol’ Boy”

An elderly dog sits on a dog staircase

Just as we age and unfortunately encounter unforeseen health circumstances, our dogs face the same fate. As dogs age, taking care of them can become more difficult. Owners of aging dogs often struggle with their pets’ dementia and incontinence.

We all share a common goal: create the best life possible for our four-legged friends. If you are beginning to navigate uncharted territory with your aging dog, we’ve got a few tips to help you along the way.

Eventually, we have to come to terms with the fact that our puppy is no longer a puppy.

Basic Needs for Aging Dogs

Pay attention to their diet: Mature dogs often have food issues, including problems chewing, lack of appetite, obesity, new food sensitivities and digestive difficulties. It is best to talk with your vet about what dietary needs your aging dog requires. Sometimes it could be adding a little more fiber, decreasing the amount of food, increase feeding frequencies or adding in some healthy aging supplements. Some dogs require specialized diets to help manage chronic conditions like kidney disease or diabetes. Your vet can help you determine what will be best for your senior pup!

Exercise, but don’t overdo it: Is there something you could do 5 years ago that you can’t today? Like people, aging dogs experience pain and can have difficulty performing physical activities they used to enjoy. Physical health isn’t the only concern here, mental health is just as important and requires attention as well.

Incorporating light walks and gentle playtime is a great way to keep your old dogs mind and body active. It’s almost more important to let them sniff and smell during their walk versus trying to get steps in. A dog’s world is largely smell oriented. Letting a senior dog meander slowly and taking in the smells is physically and mentally stimulating for them.

Pay Attention: One of the most important things you can do is to be aware of the changes with your dog. Monitor changes in behavior; appetite; weight loss or gain; dental issues; and any lumps, bumps, and bring them to your vet’s attention. Are your senior’s eyes getting cloudy? Changes in vison might require extra light outside at night or when going down the stairs. Pay attention to the frequency of their urinations. If they begin to have accidents in the house, don’t scold them for it! They didn’t mean to! Often it is a sign of a more serious problem such as UTI’s, diabetes and kidney disease. We suggest taking them to the vet if any of these changes occur.

Caring for Special Needs Dogs

Aging dogs are one thing, but dogs with special needs are another arena. Do you have a dog with special needs? For pet owners that have a disabled dog, it can be a challenge trying to cater to them and support them throughout the day.

Add in aging, and things could get messy.

One of the most important things you can do for your special needs dogs is to create a routine for them. A daily routine will make sure that you are meeting all of the important tasks required for your dog, such as administering medications, doing specific exercises, and feeding them a diet that supports their overall health.

Pro Tip: A written-out schedule can help you remember the required tasks and provide a structure to your day. Taking care of an older dog may involve a little more work than you’re used to doing, but caring for a lifetime companion is such a rewarding experience. We want our furry friends to have the best life possible.