With winter approaching, it’s that time of year to really monitor your senior dog. Harsh cold, wet pavement and damp fur could really cause havoc for our senior dogs. DDG is here to help guide you on what to watch for and how to treat your senior dog this winter. We owe it to our older dogs to make sure they’re comfortable and cared for during this season.
Winter Weather and Senior Dogs
It’s well known that aging dogs (humans and other pets) are more susceptible to the aches and pains due to winter weather. Cold snaps, blustery winds, wet snow and icy pavement affect just about every senior dog. The aches and pains of simply going outside to potty can be brutal. Knowing how to treat your senior dog this and every winter will help them be more comfortable as the years go by. We do suggest that you also speak with your veterinarian about any issues your dog may be having or you feel there may be a problem. Monitor them during all seasons and you’ll be helping to give them the golden years they deserve.
So, how do you know if your dog is approaching their golden years? Different breeds of dogs mature at different rates, but a good rule of thumb is the larger the dog, the faster they mature. Based on this if your dog is seven he is probably experiencing, or at least approaching, his senior years. When your dog hits this stage in his life it’s important that he receive the right amount of exercise, nutrition, and veterinary care.
Veterinary Care for Senior Dogs
Having a great veterinarian and communicating with them every season is one of the key ingredients to a happy healthy senior dog! Your senior dog will be experiencing lots of emotional and physical changes as he ages, and possibly more aches and pains in the winter. Because of this, it is important to keep up on his health. In addition to his regular check-ups and shots, ask your vet about twice-annual geriatric screenings.
Signs Your Dog is Aging
How does your dog show the signs of age? A healthy senior dog will most likely have a decrease in energy level. He may nap more, or become tired more easily. Your senior dog may also be stiff after play or upon getting up after a rest. How do you know the difference between normal wear and tear and arthritis or an injury? If your dog loosens up after mild activity he’s probably just showing some signs of age. Dogs who seem to feel worse as the days go on should be seen by a vet to rule out other possibilities.
A senior dog can benefit from comfy sleeping quarters. There are several companies out there that make bedding for dogs designed to take the pressure off of aging and aching joints. These are often made of memory foam or eggshell foam, and have removable covers that can be machine washed in case your senior dog has an accident.
Steady Exercise Regimen
A good exercise regimen can help your pet avoid common problems such as weight gain and arthritis. Walking your dog (at a slow steady pace) is a fantastic exercise for older dogs and also improves digestion and circulation. A walk or two a day plus some low-key playing should do the trick.
Winter Nutrition For Older Dogs
It may be tough during winter to get the freshest veg and snacks for your dog, something they may have grown accustomed to in the spring and summer. But, as your dog ages, dietary needs will change – as does their dietary needs during winter. Be sure to choose a food that is appropriate for you dog’s needs and conditions! As a general rule of thumb, a good senior dog food will have fewer calories, enough protein, and vitamins and minerals that help your dog’s coat and teeth stay strong and healthy.
Weight gain due to slowing metabolisms is a common problem with senior dogs. How do you know if your dog is overweight? Try this simple test. Put your hands on his backbone and feel for his rib-cage. If you can’t feel it, chances are your dog needs to shed a few pounds. Since this is a common problem among older dogs there are a number of foods on the market with lower fat and calories.
Give your senior dog the right care, and he’ll really enjoy his golden years!