It is bound to happen and it is never fun when it does. Suddenly one day we notice that
our dog does not come bounding to the door to greet us as often as he once did. Instead
he is curled up sleeping in his favorite spot. Or one day we notice that he tires out faster
on a walk or does not want to play his favorite game outside. You might even notice on
the darker fur dogs, shades of gray coming through on their coat? Your dog is entering
the final stages of his life, and that is becoming a senior.
When should you consider your dog a senior, is it when the above symptoms start
happening or is their a guideline to follow? Your vet will tell you that your dog is
considered a senior when they are in the last third of their life expectancy. A Golden
Retriever that is expected to live until they are roughly 13 usually enters senior hood
around 8 or 9 years old. Poodles usually live 15 years enters their senior hood at around
10 years old. Other changes you might see that will clue you in to your dog’s age is that
you might find your dog being a little bit clumsier then before. It is not uncommon for
sudden blindness and hearing loss to accompany a dog on their trip through the senior
years. It is not a bad idea to see your vet to make sure that this is what is going on with
your dog and not something else.
Once your dog gets older, you will also notice a decrease in activity. They simply do not
have the energy they once did. You might want to cut back on the amount of food you
were feeding your dog to help prevent weight gain in those last years. You can if you
really want purchase a specially formulated senior diet dog food. But double check with
your vet. Some of those diet foods or senior foods can contain a lot of protein and if your
dog is in renal failure, you do not want to give them any extra protein.
Your dog also has more of a chance of becoming constipated once it becomes a senior.
Their stomach and digestive system do not work as well as it used to. So make sure you
have plenty of fiber in your dogs diet. A good amount of fiber is between 3% and 5%.
Also make sure they have plenty of fresh water. Water can help with the constipation.
Make sure you take note of your dog when they are trying to do their business. Is it
harder for them than usual? If so, talk to you vet to find the best solution to help your
Keep feeding your dog supplements. It is a known fact that there a lot of breeds are
prone to arthritis once they become seniors. It is one of the fears we have for our golden
retriever. Golden Retrievers are known for developing arthritis and hip problems later in
life. You want to make sure you keep those joints healthy so they can get around. Most
vets will recommend a daily supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitin. Both
of these nutrients will help your dog’s arthritis. Vitamins also work because older dog’s
bodies tend to absorb fewer vitamins and electrolytes through their intestinal tract and
lose them. Also some dogs will eat less once they are older and are depriving
themselves of much needed vitamins. You also want to make sure you give your senior
dog plenty of essential fatty acids. These can help with the effect of arthritis.
One of the most common problems owners of older dogs report is how hard it is to feed
their dogs . Their dog will suddenly stop eating and a frantic call to the vet is placed.
While it could be something serious, chances are it has to do with your dog’s teeth and
mouth. Their teeth are getting old and they may have a hard time chewing food like they
used to. You could try giving them smaller kibble or moistening the food with water to
soften it up a little bit.
Sometimes an older dog will no longer find their food as appealing as it once was. Try
adding a little bit of cooked chicken and broth or boiled eggs to the food. Some vets will
give you the ok to add very small amounts of bacon drippings, or hamburger grease to
your dogs food.
When your dog has reached its senior years, it is not the time to skimp on dog food. Give
him the best dog food you can afford. Some people report beginning to try the BARF
diet (bones and raw food diet) because the raw food is easier for seniors to chew and the
vegetables that are part of this diet are usually pureed, therefore easier for them to eat.
The BARF diet is an excellent diet to follow because of all the natural nutrients that are
included and some people say that the BARF diet has helped their dog gain back some of
its energy. Other benefits include helping with arthritis and weight gain that seems to be
so common in older dogs. Of course not all seniors will take to the raw food diet, so it
really is up to you on what to do. Though again, the benefits greatly out way the chance
that they might not like it, so it is worth a shot.
Some people tend to up the table scraps for their senior dogs. A part of them feels
almost guilty that they know the end of their time together is approaching and wants to
indulge them those last few years. While their hearts are in the right place, it is really
not a good idea to do this. This could cause more problems in your dog then it might
Watching your dog grow old is not always an easy thing to do, giving him the best diet
possible might help make this a more comfortable time in his life.