Everyone knows how much attention puppies require, but our elderly dogs need just as much love.
November is National Senior Pet Month, a cause close to our heart. When our standard poodle Rosie stopped eating at age 14, we knew we had to do something. We wanted Rosie to have comfort in her last years, especially when it came to her food, so we created all-natural meals that got her excited to eat again.
Rosie lived until 16 and a half (that's her on the left!), which gave us the moments we desperately wanted with her, as well as time to hone her home-cooked meals and further develop our line of all-natural treat meals for dogs who needed some TLC when it came to their diets.
It’s hard to see any member of your family get older. Just like humans, dogs go through major changes as they age. Elderly dogs often suffer from energy and appetite loss, so it's important for pet owners to respond to these changes so that our dogs can live long and happy lives until the end.
What actually constitutes a senior dog?
It can be hard to know when to make changes to your dog’s lifestyle based on their age. Your dog’s size and breed determine when they're considered old. Larger dogs tend to have shorter lifespans than smaller breeds. Larger dogs tend to exhibit signs of aging around 6 years old. Smaller dogs are usually considered elderly when they reach 8-10 years. It really does depend on the dog, so pay special attention to changes in your dog’s behavior and health as they get older.
What ailments affect senior dogs?
While some geriatric dogs seem to have the same energetic spirit they had as puppies, oder dogs do exhibit some common behaviors. Older dogs often suffer from appetite loss and lower energy. Dogs can also suffer from dementia, so pay attention to if your dog doesn't seem to recognize you or a family member, or know where they are.
Elderly dogs often suffer from dental diseases, which can make it hard to chew dry kibble or the foods they used to enjoy. To prevent canine periodontal diseases, examine your dog's gums and teeth for redness, tartar or inflamation. If your dogs' breath smells worse than usual, it may be a sign of a bacterial infection.
We also find that diabetes and osteopenia, a weakening of the bones, become much more common as dog's age, making a healthy diet even more important.
Studies also show that about half of dogs over the age of 10 develop cancer, parasitic infections, reproductive illnesses and/or heart disease. If your dog needs to take medication, a soft meal is the perfect way to distribute hard-to-swallow pills with ease.
What Can We Do to Make Life Better for Senior Dogs?
It’s no secret that elderly dogs require a bit of extra attention, but there are some easy ways to give them the love and care they need.
Be aware of your dog's habitual behavior. Does your dog have more trouble being active than before? Does their appetite fluctuate? If possible, take your dog to the vet to identify any issues that may arise. They will help you determine whether your dog will need new vaccines, medication, or a change in diet.
Mental stimulation keeps older dogs active and helps prevent senility. Play with your dog regularly and incorporate treats or toys into their routines to keep them active.
Create a rotational feeding cycle with natural meals to add variety and nutrition to your senior dog's diet. Ingredient variety keep appetite loss at bay, while small portions with natural ingredients help curb obesity, another common issue for aging dogs.