- Age 7 is the appropriate time to begin feeding senior formula dog foods. These foods have fewer calories and less protein, which is important for the less active senior dogs.
- If you haven’t already, it’s never too late to put your dog on a schedule of eating twice daily. This will help you, especially during the senior years, to more accurately track your dog’s appetite and food intake.
- Brands of food that we recommend are Purina, Iams, Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin, and Eukanuba. Make sure the brand of dog food you choose is certified by the AAFCO (the dog food equivalent of the USDA).
- Avoid giving your dog table scraps as much as possible. If you really want to use “people” food as a reward, choose more nutritious and low fat options such as baby carrots, green beans or Cheerios. You can also choose low calorie dog treats.
Physical Shape and the Body Condition System (BCS)
- It is more important than ever during your dog’s senior years to keep him/her at an ideal weight. This can aid in the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis and also the prevention of other diseases such as diabetes
- Using Purina’s Body Condition System chart, you can rate the shape and fitness of your dog’s body at home and track visible progress.
- You want to be able to feel your dog’s ribs by pressing lightly into his/her side. If you have to apply more significant pressure to feel the ribs, there is probably excess fat.
- You should be able to see your dog’s waist when looking down at his/her back from above. There should be a tuck in at the sides just behind the ribs.
Home Dental Care
- Periodontal/dental disease is the most common disease in dogs.
- Healthy teeth are more important than ever with senior dogs. If not cleaned off a dog’s teeth, bacteria from the tartar are absorbed through the gums into the bloodstream, where it travels to various organs. This can result in a wide range of diseases, including kidney and liver disease, which senior dogs are more susceptible to.
- It’s never too late for your dog to have a professional dental cleaning. The anesthesia we use for the procedure is human-grade and very safe.
- The following are some things you can do for your dog at home to help keep his/her teeth healthier:
- Feed dry dog food whenever possible. Wet/canned food increases tartar.
- Give your dog special dental chews that contain enzymatic cleaners, such as OraVet Chews.
- Brush your dog’s teeth up to once weekly.
- If you don’t want to brush, there are dental rinses that are simple to use and will also help prevent plaque and tartar buildup.
Senior Dog Healthcare Concerns
- Senior dogs are more susceptible than adult dogs to the following conditions:
- Osteoarthritis/Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), Obesity, Diabetes, Renal/Kidney disease, KCS (dry eye), Hypothyroidism (low thyroid), Cushing’s Disease, Skin tumors, Dental/Periodontal disease, Congestive Heart Failure, Cataracts.
- To aid in diagnosis, be on the lookout for any of the following:
- Changes in mood/behavior, respiratory difficulty, signs of stiffness when walking/getting up or other signs of “slowing down”, weight loss/gain, changes in appetite (especially decreased) or thirst (especially increased), changes in urinary habits (especially increased), bad breath, visible tartar on teeth, loose teeth, decrease in hearing/vision, chronic digestive upset/vomiting/diarrhea, new or changing lumps/bumps on skin.