Having dogs to love is a beautiful and happy experience for humans. The sad part is watching them manifest the signs of ageing in dogs. What would your old fur buddy like to say, and how can you help them go through this period with ease?
What Age is Considered Senior Dogs?
Pets age faster than humans. Their lifespan varies depending on the breed. Generally, the larger the size or breed, the shorter the lifespan, and the average age they enter senior years is seven years old.
Signs of Ageing in Dogs: What would they like to tell you?
Vision Loss: “I can’t see that well anymore.”
Your dog may bump into things more often or have trouble locating toys or water bowls on the floor, which could be due to eye cloudiness (Nuclear Sclerosis). Though its gradual onset is usually not concerning, it can be an early sign of developing cataracts or other diseases, such as glaucoma. If not treated, your furbaby can lose their vision completely.
To ensure their safety, clear the clutter on the floor and mark rooms with different scents and rugs with various textures. Block off dangerous areas such as swimming pools and stairs and keep everyday items like food and water bowls in the same place.
Difficulty in Hearing: “I’m not ignoring you. I just can’t hear that much.”
If your dog doesn’t come to you when you call them, it may be due to hearing difficulty. Although old dogs cannot hear that well anymore, they can still detect vibrations.
You can get their attention by using hand claps or knocking on a hard surface close to where they are. Another great way to prepare them for this transition is to teach them hand signals.
Less Interest in Moving: “I would like to play, but I can’t move too well because I’m in pain.”
Joint pains and arthritis are common in ageing dogs. These conditions make them less interested in activities requiring a lot of movement. They still need exercise so choose less impactful physical activities like swimming. Take shorter but more frequent walks and take breaks if necessary. Your vet can prescribe supplements or medication to ease discomfort and avoid flare-ups.
Changes in Coat, Skin and Nails. “I need a little bit more grooming now.”
Course, dry coat, thinning skin, and brittle nails are some signs of ageing in dogs. Due to these changes, they can develop skin conditions and have injuries. To avoid these, they need more grooming.
Add fish oil to their diet and brush their coat more frequently to help stimulate hair growth. It’s also a great way to bond and an opportunity to check for lumps and bumps on their skin. You can trim their nails more often or take them to a professional groomer for pedicures.
Behavioural Changes: “I get more confused and anxious these days.”
Like humans, it’s common for seniors dogs to lose cognitive ability. They tend to forget rules and other simple activities like navigating the house. They can also have difficulty recognising people and handling stress. Old dogs can develop separation anxiety and noise phobias and exhibit behaviours such as having more frequent bathroom accidents and becoming too clingy, distant, or even aggressive.
Although these behavioural changes can be attributed to loss of cognitive ability, dulled senses and sometimes pain, it’s best to take them to the vet to rule out other illnesses. In the meantime, your patience is really what your furbaby needs at this point.
Signs of Ageing in Dogs: What They Need From You
It’s hard to see your dog age before your eyes. They might not be able to tell you in words, but by being aware of the telltale signs of aging in dogs and listening intently with your heart, you can provide them with the specific care they need. With understanding, respect and love, you can ensure they are as comfortable and content as possible through their golden years.