Old age can creep up with dogs and it can be easy to miss the little signs and changes in behaviour that show their maturity. Some seniors won’t show their age at all on the outside but most will gain distinguished silver coats and muzzles as they get older. Senior dogs are generally easier to handle than younger dogs as they don’t ask for as much exercise and playtime, are less likely to run off and they will often become more affectionate and dependant on you making it even easier to bond with them. However, on the downside they are more vulnerable to illness and need a warm comfortable environment to rest and recuperate in.
Breed and size play a role in when dogs become seniors, for instance a Border terrier will be a senior at 9 whilst Bloodhounds are seniors at 6-7 years of age and whilst for some dogs they can expect to have many long healthy years as senior dogs, for others this can be a few brief years.
As they age you may notice their behaviour changing, as well as looking for more affection and time with you, they can be grumpier with other dogs and dislike changes in their routine. It’s common for senior dogs to become more anxious and sensitive as they start to lose sight or hearing and they will often dislike being separated from you. Major changes in behaviour and mood can be a sign of pain or illness so, if in doubt, contact your vet.
The biggest change is with their activity, as they gently wind down senior dogs are naturally less active, joint function can be affected and arthritis and stiffness becomes noticeable. This change in activity alongside reduced metabolism can often lead to weight gain, so monitoring weight and condition is important in senior dogs.
Finding the right food for your senior is important, a good food for senior dogs is one which they enjoy eating and suits their digestion. In most cases lower energy, low fat diets but with high digestibility will match their reduced metabolism and prevent any weight gain. As senior dogs are more vulnerable to illness keeping a close eye on appetite and feeding habits is important to detect problems early on giving you more time to resolve them. Adding a joint health supplement either separately or within their food can also help, as this will support joint health and movement as they get older.
As all senior dogs are individual, at tails.com we make sure we include all the nutrients and extras your dog needs as he gets older. We take details about your dog when you sign up with us but will also amend his blend if you let us know about anything that has changed over time.