1. Monitor how much they drink
By getting a feel for how much your pet drinks normally you’ll notice if it changes significantly. An increase or decrease in the amount of water they consume, or urinating more frequently, needs to be investigated. This can be a sign of diabetes or kidney disease but the sooner it is diagnosed the earlier it can be treated and quality of life improved.
Don’t restrict your dog’s access to water unless advised to do so by your vet.
2. Maintain a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight plays a huge part in a pet’s long term state of health and quality of life. Being overweight increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and joint problems but as dogs age their body slows and uses less energy making it easier to gain excess weight.
Feed a diet specially formulated for senior dogs. They provide fewer calories whilst ensuring your pet gets the correct nutrients they need, and without going hungry.
Monitor their weight regularly. You can pop into any of our surgeries anytime and weigh [name] on the waiting room scales.
Weight loss (with or without a loss of appetite) is also concerning. Although it can be normal for older dogs to lose a little weight, it can also be a sign of infection or disease, so it’s best to be checked out as soon as possible.
At our free weight clinics our nurses advise on how to lose weight safely and monitor weight and body condition.
3. Regular gentle grooming
It’s a great excuse for some quality time with your dog and an opportunity to check for any lumps or bumps and signs of pain or discomfort when being touched. Lumps on the skin aren’t unusual on dogs, and generally not a cause for concern, but they do need to be checked out.
4. Don't ignore smelly breath
Smelly breath, drooling or difficulty eating can all be signs of dental disease which is very common, affecting around 80% of senior dogs. As well as being painful, it can lead to tooth loss, and more serious health risks if the bacteria enters the blood stream. Thankfully it is preventable with a good dental routine. Daily brushing is best but there are diets and chews that also help. Our nurses give free dental examinations, dental demos and advice.
5. Monitor their mobility
Arthritis is common in senior dogs but often difficult for owners to spot as dogs will usually hide the fact that they are in pain. But when you know the signs to look out for help is at hand.
TAKE OUR MOBILITY SURVEY TO SEE YOUR DOG SCORES.
Talk to one of our vets if your dog's score is low or if you have any concerns. Often simply a change in diet can help your dog walk, run and jump more easily.
6. Keep active
Long hikes may be out now, but light exercise is still important to strengthen the muscles and to keep ligaments and tendons flexible and help prevent obesity. Being outside also provides very important mental stimulation and contact with other dogs and people. Playing with your dog will also help to keeo them mentally stimulated.
7. Regular health checks and vaccinations
We recommend a complete nose to tail health check with a vet at least once a year along with annual vaccinations, especially for older dogs as their immune system can be less effective as they age. At annual booster appointments we’ll give them a free full clinical examination including:
- Coat and skin
- Weight and Body Condition
Along with discussing any concerns you have about their health and wellbeing.
8. Keep up flea & worming
It’s important to keep older animals protected. Their immune system isn’t as effective making them more vulnerable, and a flea or worm infestation can have a bigger impact on an older pet.