A recent article in the RNSW Canine Journal stated that, thanks mainly to modern veterinary medicine, the lifespan for dogs has increased from 7 years in the 1930s to more than 12 years today.
The article provided the following tips on caring for elderly dogs:
- Exercise: Obesity is the most common condition that vets see in elderly dogs. As dogs age, they still need exercise to benefit their heart, lungs, circulation, digestive system and joints – as well as for their mental and emotional well being.
- Grooming: Changes in your dog’s skin and coat as it ages make regular grooming even more important. Grooming sessions also provide an excellent opportunity to check for tumours, growths or changes in skin condition.
- Diet: As dogs age they have different nutritional needs. These can be met nowadays by the many dog food brands that offer complete food for different life stages of a dog.
- Teeth: Older dogs get lazy about chewing food and playing with chew toys. Chewing helps clean a dog’s teeth. Therefore it is advisable to have your vet regularly check your older dog’s teeth.
- Sight & Hearing: Partial and complete sight and hearing loss is a common consequence of ageing. Dogs can compensate for these conditions, especially when the dog is in familiar surroundings and is given time to adjust to the condition.
Remember: Older dogs need just as much care, reassurance and love as cute, young puppies. Be patient and sensitive with this trusty companion who has served you well over the years.
Extract from RNSWCC Journal, June 2005, quoted August 2005