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Looking after your senior dog

Older black labrador

The signs of ageing in dogs are quite similar to those of humans. They get tired more easily and have less energy as their bones and muscles get weaker, white or grey hairs start to appear, sight and hearing begin to deteriorate. Larger dogs age faster than smaller breeds, but in general, a dog is considered to be middle aged at around seven. Noticing the signs of ageing early on means that you can be prepared and make their transition into being a senior as comfortable as possible.

An older dog will not require as much exercise as before as their muscles start to weaken and joints stiffen up. Arthritis is a common problem in elderly dogs but exercising little and often can help this. You may need to consider a coat to help keep them warm and dry when you’re out and about. Make sure your dog has a low, comfortable bed located in a nice quiet place to allow for plenty of rest. You may have to think about ramps or stairs for allowing easier access to some of the harder to reach places, for example, outside the front door or the sofa. If you have hardwood or tiled floors, it might be worth putting a rug down to help them grip so they don’t slip around too much. You could also spend some of the time you would have spent walking on grooming instead. Your dog will likely find this relaxing and appreciate the attention and it will give you a chance to check for any lumps or bumps or areas that are causing them pain.

Older black labrador

Older dogs can experience both weight loss and weight gain. This could mean that you need to alter their diet or it could be a sign of a more serious underlying issue so it’s important to take them to the vet if you notice any changes. It’s worth asking if your vet runs any clinics for senior dogs as this will allow them to have regular check ups and to keep on top of any other treatments they may require as they age, such as worming and vaccination boosters.

Ageing happens to us all but by noticing the signs and adjusting a couple of things slightly, the transition into old age can be a comfortable one.