We all know that dogs are our best friends, but as they get older, they start to act like our parents. They rely on us for everything and need us to take care of them. It's a big responsibility, but it's also really rewarding because you'll have the opportunity to spend more time with your dog than ever before.
We all know that our dogs are aging, and we've heard the warning signs. We hear things like "it's time to put him down" or "this isn't normal for a dog." But what exactly does it mean when your dog is getting older? And how do you deal with the changes? The most important thing we usually ignore is that senior dogs have different requirements than small pups or young adult dogs. Hence, you must also reconsider all the pet supplies that are particularly meant for senior dogs. This post will help you understand what living with a senior dog means and what you should avoid doing to keep you and your pup happy.
1. Delaying Treatment
You may think your dog is fine and can wait a little while before taking him or her to the vet, but this could lead to serious health issues. While it's true that many older dogs will have some aches and pains as they get older, they may also have other symptoms that need immediate attention. It can include:
Nearly 90% of senior dogs usually suffer from joint pain issues and arthritis. However, medicines like Rimadyl for dogs are an effective option for pain relief and arthritis.
2. Making Your Dog Do Things They Don't Want to Do
When you bring a dog into your home, it's important to understand that they have their own will and ability. You can love them and care for them all you want, but in the end, they will still decide based on what they feel is best for themselves. It includes everything from what toys they like best to how much exercise they feel like doing. You can get them the best of toys from brands like Kong toys, but it can be natural that your dog loves a simple game of fetch with an ordinary tennis ball. As much as we might want our dogs to do everything we ask of them, forcing them into situations where they are uncomfortable can only cause harm in the long run.
3. Changing Their Diet
As your dog ages, your vet may recommend a change in diet. However, you should consult the vet before drastically changing your dog's diet.
If you decide to change their food, it's best to make this change gradually over several days by mixing in small amounts of the new food with what they're eating now. It will help avoid stomach upset and diarrhea.
It's important to find good quality food for your senior dogs that include protein, fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to keep them healthy as they grow older. Some good brands of dog foods for seniors include:
Purina Pro Plan Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice Formula With Probiotics Senior Dry Dog Food;
Merrick Dog Food Backcountry Grain Free Farm-Raised Salmon Entree;
Wellness Core Dog Food for Digestive Health Chicken Recipe;
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Canine Renal Support Dry Dog Food;
Optimum Nutrition Complete Health Large Breed Senior Dog Food.
4. Not Taking Them to the Vet When They Need It
As your dog ages, it's important to take them to the vet every six months. It is especially true if you notice any changes in their behavior or health, as these could be signs of illness or disease.
It's also a good idea to take your senior dog in for annual checkups at least, if not more often, depending on how well they seem to be doing overall. Vets can see what kind of shape a senior dog is in and prescribe supplements like Dasuquin for dogs or Cosequin that can help keep them healthy while they're living longer than they usually do.
5. Ignoring Certain Conditions
You shouldn't ignore any changes in your older dog's behavior.
It's important to pay attention to your senior dog's eating habits and make sure they're normal.
Sleeping patterns can change as well, so be wary of that.
Finally, you should be aware that the older a dog gets, the more prone he is to developing behavioral issues such as aggression or separation anxiety.
6. Feeding Them a Poor-Quality Diet
To keep your senior dog as healthy and comfortable as possible, it's important to feed them a high-quality diet. Cheap dog food or other low-quality foods are likely to contain artificial ingredients that can cause serious health problems. Some red flags for unhealthy ingredients include:
Carbohydrates (sugar, corn syrup) - can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and more
Additives - preservatives, additives (like BHA/BHT) that can cause cancer in animals over time
Artificial flavors and colors - these aren't necessary for your dog's health and may even be harmful
It would be better to consult a vet and feed them vet-recommended food, like Hill’s Science Diet, that meets all your nutritional requirements.
7. Leaving Them Alone for Long Periods
Your dog is used to being around people, so they'll be lonely if you leave them alone for long periods. Not only are dogs social animals, but pets are also recommended not to be left alone for more than four hours at a time. It can cause your senior dog to get bored or stressed out, leading to behavioral issues such as excessive barking or destructive behavior.
8. Making Everything About Age
One more thing to avoid is making everything about the fact that your dog is getting older. Don't expect your senior dog to be like they were younger. You have to be willing to accept their limitations and realize that these limitations can change regularly. Dogs don't live forever; most large breed dogs live for about 12-15 years. So don't expect them to outlast humans by much. And even though we might think our dog could still be going strong at 20 or 30 years old, this isn't always the case, and there's nothing wrong with accepting reality sooner rather than later.
9. Losing Sight of Who Your Dog is as a Living Being
When caring for your senior dog, don't lose sight of who they are as a living being. Your dog still has a personality and can still be happy. It's easy for us to forget this when dealing with the struggles of aging or illness, but we must remember that dogs are just as unique as humans in their ways.
The bottom line is that while some things change, others stay the same over time. By remembering this simple fact, you'll find yourself much less stressed and more at peace with what comes next.
10. Trying to Change Their Behaviors Too Much Too Quickly
It is a biggie. If you change your dog's behavior too quickly, it will be hard for them to adjust. So try to be patient as they learn new things and get used to the change in environment. For example, if they were used to going outside when they needed to go potty before moving in with you, you now want them to wait until it's time for their walk. It could take some time for them to get used to this new schedule. Senior dogs can also avoid playing super energetic games while still enjoying playing with dog chew toys. These changes should not be neglected, keeping their old age and energy levels in mind.
11. Losing Sight of the Joy of Living with a Senior Dog
Although your senior dog may be slowing down, it's important to remember that they're still dogs. They can still be playful, affectionate, and loyal if you spend time with them regularly. Don't underestimate the joy a senior dog can bring to your life.
Senior dogs like walks just as much as they did when they were younger, and they'll appreciate being outdoors more now than ever. They also love playing games like fetch and tug-of-war.
Treats are always a good way to stimulate a senior dog's appetite and reward their good behavior throughout the day. They love treats more than anything else. Consider treats from Milk-Bone, which are an ideal option for senior dogs.
Toys are also great ways for senior dogs to use up some energy after dinner or before bedtime. You can even fill an empty water bottle with treats rather than food so your pup gets used to something different from what he would normally get from his bowl at mealtime.
12. Assuming Your Dog Will Die Soon
You can't assume your dog will die soon. When your senior dog is sick or recovering from surgery, it's common to think this is the end of the road for them. If a family member has suffered from an illness like cancer or heart disease, it's easy to assume that your dog will eventually get sick too, but so many other things could happen. For example, your senior dog may have been diagnosed with arthritis at age ten but lived until 16.
Your dog might not die from old age. However, some dogs may have trouble adjusting when placed in a new home because they don't want to leave their "family" behind. So if you're going through something tough and considering getting another pet, remember that this new animal will probably grow old alongside you and watch as its health declines over time too.
If you want your senior dog to live a long and healthy life, you must take care of yourself. One of the best ways to do that is by staying positive and keeping an open mind. And as we mentioned earlier, when it comes down to it, sometimes the best thing you can do is just go with the flow and enjoy what time you have left together.