Our Advice for Adopting a Senior Dog
Earlier this month, in honor of Senior Pet Month, we discussed some of the surprising benefits of adopting an older or senior dog. Puppies might be cute and have a longer lifespan, but there are many senior dogs looking for loving homes all over the country, and they can be a great fit for owners who may not be prepared to deal with the crazed energy and training of a puppy.
Senior dogs have different care requirements than those of a younger dog. You must be aware of what to expect as your dog ages. Your dog may develop a degenerative disease, get tired easily, have difficulty getting up or finding a comfortable position to sleep in, become reluctant to go up and down stairs or have difficulty getting into and out of the car. They may also become aggressive given all these hardships, emphasizing the need for Pet Liability Insurance All these aspects make it critical to know how to handle a senior dog. Here’s our advice on how to make the time with your senior dog count.
Older dogs must be examined at least once a year, even if they appear healthy, as many diseases are hidden and not apparent. Remember, it is much cheaper to prevent disease than it is to treat it.
Ask for a body condition evaluation during each vet visit. Body condition is crucial to determining whether your senior dog is overweight, underweight, or at an ideal body weight. You should also ask your veterinarian to show you how to evaluate your dog’s body condition at home.
Feed older dogs a high quality diet and learn to read the dog food label to choose a diet that’s age and lifestyle appropriate. Use food to keep your senior dog at an ideal body weight. Overweight dogs have a higher chance of life threatening diseases. Your veterinarian can help you choose an appropriate diet for your dog, especially since overweight dogs must be fed carefully to ensure that all nutrient needs are met while still allowing for weight loss.
Specialized diets that are lower in calories and high L-carnitine are available for obese or overweight dogs. A diet with a carefully chosen carbohydrate or carbohydrate blend can also help keep your overweight dog feeling satiated. Consider fortifying your senior dog’s diet with fatty acids such as DHA and EPA, if they have mobility issues.
Exercise your senior dog. It can help keep your older dog stay lean and maintain healthy joints and muscles, and give him or her a great outlet to let out some energy. However, tailor your dog’s exercise needs to their individual requirements. For a large breed dog, walking around the block is probably just getting started but for a tiny Chihuahua, a brisk walk around the block may be a long trek. If they aren’t used to exercise, start slow and gradually increase the intensity. Some senior dogs might have health problems that make exercising difficult, or they may just lack energy. Take your dog’s needs into account.
Other than walks, another good idea is to provide plenty of toys to keep your senior dog occupied. Food puzzles, for instance, not only keep them entertained but are also great for weight loss purposes. Older dogs may not have the boundless energy that puppies do, but it will be good for their bodies and their behavior to provide them with ways to stay active and busy.
Dogs with arthritis might benefit from soft bedding, maybe with a special dog bed or towels and blankets to sleep on.
Ramps can be used to make stairs easier to navigate if they cannot be avoided. Even providing carpeting or rugs over hard-surface flooring can help your arthritic dog gain footing and make it easier for they to get around.
Dogs can become frustrated just like humans, and it’s important that you understand your dog’s needs and address them in every aspect.
There are many reasons a dog may bite, and it’s not always 100% preventable. In addition to financially protecting dog owners from dog bite claims, our Canine Liability Policy also covers other injuries to people, including scratches and fall injuries caused by dogs and injuries to other animals. Please contact us today for more information at (407) 865-7477, ext. 101.