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The Guide to Caring for Senior Dogs: Ensuring Golden Years Shine Bright

The Guide to Caring for Senior Dogs: Ensuring Golden Years Shine Bright

Your faithful companion, who has been by your side through thick and thin, is now in their golden years. Imagine: Their once-energetic romps are slowing, and their fur is greying beautifully.

As your dog ages, they go through many changes that may require your attention and care. It's a scary thought, your dog growing older, but you can ensure they enjoy their golden years by preparing thoroughly.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll embark on a journey to explore the intricacies of caring for senior dogs, learning more about their ageing bodies and ways you can keep them comfortable in their old age. 

Explaining the Doggy Aging Process

Dogs undergo a series of fascinating and challenging changes as they grow older. Their once-keen senses may dim, but their hearts continue to radiate love. 

Here's a closer look at some common changes senior dogs may experience:

Sensory Changes

Senior Shih Tzu

Vision and hearing are two senses that typically decline with age. Some dog breeds, such as Shih Tzus and Poodles, are more prone to adverse eye developments, like cataracts.

As for hearing loss, it may occur because of ear nerves degenerating over time. While both impairments aren't life-threatening, they can affect how you communicate with your dogs.

If your dog currently has visual and hearing impairments, don't fret. What you can do is approach them and slowly rub their back to let them know you're trying to talk to them. You can also teach hand gestures to better communicate with your pet. 

Immune System Changes

Carrots and pumpkin

The immune system is pivotal in protecting the body against infections and diseases. Over time, your senior dog's immune system effectiveness can decline, making them more susceptible to illnesses.

All is not lost, though. You can boost your dog's immune system by changing components in their meals, creating exercise plans, and introducing supplements to their diet.

Daily walks are highly beneficial to your senior dog's health, and so are vegetables like carrots and pumpkins. Since your dog needs extra nutrients to stay healthy in old age, you can also feed them senior dog-friendly treats like Dr Shiba’s Happy Tummy, which promote healthy gut health and improve appetite.

Cognitive Changes

Senior dog lounging

Just as humans can suffer from dementia, dogs may be affected by cognitive dysfunction when they reach their golden years. Dogs with this syndrome may display symptoms like disorientation and confusion, and may experience changes to their sleep patterns.

Currently, there's no cure for Canine cognitive dysfunction, but you can still make sure that your dog lives their best life if they have this ailment. It's a bit tricky to do, especially if you have no experience working with doggy dementia, so you might want to consult a veterinarian first.

One change you can implement, though, is enhancing the accessibility of your home. Install night lights, allot pee areas inside, and invest in orthopaedic beds so your pooch is more comfortable around the house. Therapy is another option to ensure your dog lives happy and healthy.

Skin and Coat Changes

Old dog's white muzzle hair

A dog's fur is a key representation of their health, so pets with shiny coats are considered nourished and thriving. You will find, though, that your furry companion's skin and coat become duller as the years go by. In some cases, they may even shed more frequently. 

Many fur parents think lacklustre fur and hair loss are natural parts of a dog's ageing process. However, these symptoms are often signs of underlying problems. Insufficient nutrition is one, and so are parasites and hormonal shifts. 

A checkup with your local veterinarian can pinpoint the cause of adverse changes to your dog's fur. Treatment plans can be provided after the visit, and your dog may require changes with their senior dog treats. For added nutrients, you can also include Dr Shiba's Silky Fur in your senior dog's food to improve their skin and coat health. 

Motion Changes

Senior dog at the park

As your dogs enter their golden years, you may be surprised that they share little similarities to the pup you once held in your arms years prior. They may be calmer, slow to prance around, and look more solemn in the coming days.

Many senior dogs mellow out as they age, which is perfectly fine. However, if your dog looks sluggish, refuses to move around, or whimpers when they move, they may have health issues you must address. A likely culprit is joint discomfort due to arthritis.

Once again, confirming with a veterinarian should be the first step to determine the source of pain. It may not be arthritis, but simply joint aches from being overweight. Knowing the real reason can help you seek solutions to the problem, such as functional senior dog treats like Jolly Joints, which reduce joint inflammation and help with flexibility. 

Understanding Senior Dog Nutrition

Dr Shiba's functional dog treats

As you look into your companion's dark eyes, noting the white hairs around his muzzle, you may wonder, "What should I feed my senior dog?" It's a valid question since your pet's needs differ from when they were a pup.

Now, remember that doggy nutrition must consist of the following basic nutrients: water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. Every dog has unique dietary requirements, and finding the balance for your pooch keeps them healthy and at a good weight.

Some senior dog foods can fulfil your pet's nutritional requirements. However, since they're made with the majority of dogs in mind, they may not address your dog's unique issues.

Before changing your dog's diet, consider consulting a veterinarian and having your pooch undergo a physical and metabolic evaluation. The profile drawn up after the assessment can give insight into your dog's nutritional needs. 

Other than that, keep in mind that senior dog food must fulfil the following criteria to be considered healthy for your beloved companion:

  • Offers the right amount of calories and nutrients
  • Ensures proper hydration
  • Provides a blend of fat, protein, phosphorus, and sodium

Becoming the Best Fur Parent to Your Senior Dog

Visit the Vet Regularly

Senior dog at the vet

A common mistake many fur parents make is relying heavily on the internet for information about caring for their pets. While many reliable sources are online, the internet is not a great substitute for professional and curated care. 

If you have questions like "What should I feed my senior dog?" consulting your local veterinarian is smart. They can provide the facts and resources to ensure your senior dog can live their best golden years. Moreover, frequent visits to the vet can help prevent health issues in the long run.

Create a Comfortable Environment

Cosy dog house

Imagine yourself with a weary body, your aching joints making every movement painful. Now, place yourself in a home with many obstacles in your way. It's not a fun experience, right? 

As much as possible, you want to make your home highly accessible for your dog. If they usually sleep on your bed, why not invest in small wooden steps so they don't need to leap up to get some rest?

Another consideration is their feeding area. Senior dogs with aching joints don't want to go far to eat, which is why you may want to allot a space near their bed where your dog can eat without dirtying their sleeping area.

Dedicate Time for Stimulation

Dog getting leg massaged

Dogs thrive when their brains and bodies receive regular stimulation. This fact remains the same even in seniorhood. Now, you may be tempted to let your beloved pooch lie around the whole day, but too much rest isn't healthy for them.

If possible, include any exercise in their daily routine. Walks around your neighbourhood are some of the easiest, but you can try indoor activities if that's too much. You can massage their limbs to ease joint discomfort, or if your dog has the energy, you can play tug of war.

For brain stimulation, you can try puzzle feeders, inserting your pooch's favourite senior dog treats in the toys for a fun surprise. An alternative is to mix kibble with leftover Greek yoghurt, freeze the goodie in a tub, and give it to your dog as an enrichment exercise. 

Prepare Yummy Senior Dog Food

Dr Shiba Jolly Joints in Salmon Flavour

It's easy to get anxious over your dog's health now that they're in their golden years. However, the nerves shouldn't stop you from making them happy.

Food is one of the best ways to uplift your dog's mood. You may want to put them on a strictly healthy diet but do consider indulging them with senior dog-friendly treats from time to time. 

If you're worried about treats with artificial ingredients or too much sodium, try Dr Shiba's functional treats instead. Jolly Joints, in particular, contains natural ingredients that can aid with the occasional bodily aches.

Final Thoughts

Your senior dogs have been your steadfast companions, their wagging tails a constant source of joy. They've weathered the years with you, and it's now your turn to provide them with the care they deserve. 

Every action you take, from regular vet check-ups to leisurely walks along the scenic shores of Singapore, speaks volumes of your love for your furry friends.

DRS Happy Tummy tub and treat pile

And, speaking of showing love, there's a remarkable way to enhance your companion's health and happiness. Dr Shiba's Happy Tummy are scientifically formulated senior dog treats that can boost gut health and improve weak appetites. Buy Happy Tummy to make your doggy happy today.