Category: Seniors

How can I tell if my dog is a senior? (6 ways to tell)

Have you noticed changes in your dog’s appearance, energy levels, and mobility over the past few months? If you’ve had your pooch for quite some time, it’s normal to see him slowing down as he gets older. However, it’s important to know that not all dogs hit the senior mark at the same time. Aside Read More...

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Have you noticed changes in your dog’s appearance, energy levels, and mobility over the past few months? If you’ve had your pooch for quite some time, it’s normal to see him slowing down as he gets older. However, it’s important to know that not all dogs hit the senior mark at the same time. Aside from his age in years, there are other factors to consider before you can call your dog a senior. This Waldo’s Friends article will reveal answers to the questions:

How old is a senior dog?

The word senior can be used to describe any aging pet, but the number of years actually vary for each dog. Your pooch may already be considered a senior when he is between five to 10 years old, but he officially enters the senior stage when he has reached the last quarter of his life expectancy. His life expectancy is highly dependent on his size and breed, with large dogs typically having shorter life spans and aging faster than small dogs. Additionally, the state of his organs can help determine if your canine has reached the senior phase. 

How can I tell if my dog is aging?

As your dog begins to experience aging, changes in his physique, flexibility, and behaviour may manifest in subtle and obvious ways. (Side note: Thankfully, senior dogs are more vocal and demonstrative when dealing with their discomfort compared with senior cats.) As a dog pawrent, it is your responsibility to take note of these changes, and report your observations to your veterinarian. 

Your dog may display signs of aging through:

1 Changes in brain function

When your canine spends more time asleep, is restless at night, or doesn’t sleep at all, it may point to a more serious problem: canine cognitive dysfunction or dog dementia. This condition is related to the aging of your dog’s brain, greatly affecting his awareness, learning, memory, and response to stimuli. Aside from altering in his sleep cycle, other symptoms of dog dementia are: 

  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Confusion or disorientation in surroundings
  • Decreased desire to play
  • Excessive barking
  • Excessive licking
  • Extreme irritability
  • Fecal and urinary incontinence
  • Inability to follow familiar routes or recognize people
  • Lack of self-grooming
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seeming disregard for previously learned training or house rules
  • Slow to learn new tasks

When your dog displays these signs, take him to the vet so the doctor can evaluate his overall health and cognitive functions, as well as rule out other diseases. 

2 Changes in appearance and mobility

Grey or white hairs in the face and muzzle, an increased opacity over the eyes, and loss of muscle mass are some physical signs of old age. Additionally, if you notice that your dog moves slower, has a stiff gait that worsens during or after he exercises, suffers from occasional lameness, has a hard time positioning to pee or poop, and is no longer as active as before, he may be suffering from osteoarthritis.

3 Dental issues

Teeth and gum problems are also indicators of your dog’s overall health. If your pooch’s breath smells funky, his teeth have tartar, and his gums are red, inflamed, or bleeding, these may be symptoms of periodontal disease. The best way to avoid this uncomfortable illness is through regular oral checkups and dental cleaning with the veterinarian. 

4 Changes in food intake and body weight 

Your dog may be indirectly telling you that something is wrong when he abruptly gains or loses weight. He may be experiencing underlying medical issues (such as stomach or dental problems), causing a loss of appetite and a surprising drop in his weight. Similarly, older dogs that continue to eat their food but still lose weight could be experiencing malabsorption (difficulty absorbing nutrients from food), maldigestion (difficulty breaking down food), or other health issues such as diabetes, severe heart disease, chronic infection, and cancer. 

Older pooches may need to switch to specially formulated senior dog food to help them process nutrients more effectively, and to prevent obesity, osteoarthritis, and diabetes. These diets usually have lower calorie content to match an older dog’s metabolism, and higher fiber content to improve gastrointestinal health.

5 Changes in drinking and toilet habits

A difference in the amount of water he drinks and how much he urinates can also tell you if something is ailing your older dog. An increase in water intake could be caused by illnesses such as diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, and hyperadrenocorticism. Inversely, a decrease in water intake could signify ailments such as oral or dental problems, kidney disease, pancreatitis, and gastroenteritis.

Urinary incontinence is also a common ailment in aging dogs, which may be caused by a variety of health conditions. It is described as the “involuntary leakage of urine,” so when it happens, your dog is unaware that he is peeing on your living room couch or on his favourite sleeping mattress. Common medical issues that cause incontinence include urinary tract infection, bladder stones, and weak bladder.

6 Lumps and bumps

Regular home grooming allows you to help keep your senior dog clean, take out ticks and fleas, and feel his body for abnormalities. The lumps and bumps you find may just be superficial ones caused by clogged oil glands or dead cells. However, others may be cancerous growths that need to be assessed and treated through surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. Commonly diagnosed cancers in dogs include mammary gland tumors, mast cell tumors, cutaneous lymphosarcoma, malignant melanoma, and fibrosarcoma.

How can I care for a senior dog?

Caring for a senior dog involves working with your veterinarian closely, so you can provide your pooch with a pleasant lifestyle throughout his golden years. Twice a year visits to the veterinarian are highly recommended. A full body examination, a blood exam, and urine analysis should be administered with each appointment. More visits to the animal clinic increases the chances of your vet spotting a health issue earlier and preventing it from causing problems. Through regular veterinary and home care, proper nutrition, and the right amount of physical, mental, and emotional stimulation, your aging dog can continue to live life to the fullest!

Thinking of adopting a senior dog? Find out all the things you should know before bringing home one.

How can I tell if my cat is a senior? (6 ways to tell)

Aging is a natural process that leads to senescence, “a decline of biological functions and of the organism’s ability to adapt to metabolic stress.” It is normal for your beloved cats grow older through the passing of time. However, the good news is that more and more cats are living longer due to advancements in Read More...

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Aging is a natural process that leads to senescence, “a decline of biological functions and of the organism’s ability to adapt to metabolic stress.” It is normal for your beloved cats grow older through the passing of time. However, the good news is that more and more cats are living longer due to advancements in nutrition, medical care, as well as home care. If you’ve ever wondered, “Is my cat already a senior?” You’ve come to the right place! This Waldo’s Friends post will answer the questions:

How old is a senior cat?

So just how old should a cat be to be considered a senior? Technically speaking, cats fall under the senior category when they are between 11 to 14 years old. (In case you didn’t know, there’s another category for even older cats called geriatric or super senior.) However, some doctors already consider cats as seniors once they are past the age of seven, or depending on their species, breed, and the state of their organs. 

How can I tell if my cat is aging?

A cat’s body undergoes many physiological changes as she gets older. Her senses weaken, reducing her ability to smell and taste food. At the same time, her hearing and vision may diminish, making her feel vulnerable. Digestion, immunity, skin elasticity, and stress tolerance are also greatly affected as she transitions into seniorhood.

Cats are well-known for hiding their illnesses and discomforts, so you’ll need a sharp eye to spot any changes related to getting older. (Side note: Senior dogs are a different matter though, since they are more vocal when dealing with discomfort.) Once your cat has started aging, she may manifest the following:

1 Vision problems

Common ocular diseases such as glaucoma, cancer, and trauma can make it difficult for your cat to see what’s right in front of her. These eye problems may be linked to a more pressing health issue such as elevated blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, and/or kidney disease. Observe your cat and take her to the vet if she shows any of these signs:

  • Bumping into furniture, people, or walls
  • Cloudy eyes or noticeable debris in the front area of the eyes
  • Different sized pupils 
  • Engorged blood vessels in the white areas of the eyes
  • Excessive blinking
  • Pawing at the eyes
  • Pupils stay dilated in bright light

2 Weight changes

One pound may not seem a lot to us humans, but it instantly represents a 10% weight change in a 10-pound cat (the average weight of most domestic cats). The metabolism of some cats slows down as they age, so they won’t need to consume as much calories as they used to. On the other hand, other aging cats lose weight because of their inability to digest their food properly, so they need to increase their caloric intake to maintain a healthy weight. 

Unexpected weight loss or gain can be an early sign of a more significant disease, ranging from diabetes and kidney disease to cancer and hyperthyroidism. It is recommended that you bring your cat to the vet if her weight suddenly changes, so that you can determine if there is an underlying illness at play or if she simply needs to make the switch to senior-formulated cat food.  

Has your cat been avoiding the stairs to get to the second floor of your home? Has she been having a hard time jumping on her favourite couch or getting in and out of her litter box? If you answered yes to both questions, there’s a possibility that your cat may have osteoarthritis. Symptoms include a stiff-legged gait, decreased range of motion, favouring one leg, limping, and a reluctance to jump. Decrease in appetite, lethargy, poor grooming (matted or oily fur are two common signs), and even increased irritability could also be signs that your cat has joint issues. 

4 Dental diseases

Dr. Heidi Lobprise, DVM, spokesperson for the International Veterinary Senior Care Society, states that dental disease is “a very common and preventable disease that is prevalent in senior pets.” Gingivitis (irritation, redness, and swelling of the gingiva), periodontitis (gum infection that damages the soft tissue), and tooth resorption (breaking down and absorbing the structures that form the tooth) are examples of painful dental diseases that may affect your cat’s body, her organs, as well as her demeanor.

Regularly check your cat’s gums for inflammation, redness, and/or tartar. Better yet, have her teeth regularly cleaned to maintain periodontal health. Have your old cat examined if she appears reluctant to eat, has difficulty chewing her food, or is constantly drooling. 

5 Changes in toilet habits

Senior cats may also encounter modifications in their peeing habits. They may pee less because it takes them longer to process what they consume. They may also have difficulty releasing urine because of certain illnesses. These ailments include Feline lower urinary tract disease, idiopathic cystitis, and cancer. Meanwhile, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or kidney-related diseases can make your cat urinate frequently. Certain cat medications that are given to lower inflammation or treat allergies may also cause your cat to pee more often. 

If your older cat is pooping or peeing everywhere, this could also point to cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Senior cats may forget where their litter boxes are placed, or simply be unable to hold it in until they reach their litter box. Monitor your cat’s toilet habits and take note of anything out of the ordinary. If she does not pee for more than 24 hours and/or holds her poop in longer than 48 hours, contact your veterinarian immediately. 

6 Behavioural changes

Marked changes in your cat behaviour can also indicate aging. Examples include:

  • Changes in sleep-wake cycles (such as sleeping longer or staying up all night)
  • Decrease or increase in appetite (or becoming more fussy about what she eats)
  • Increase in aggression
  • Increase in wanting attention
  • Inappropriate vocalisation (meowing as if she’s lost or being vocal at night)
  • Lack of interest in playing or interacting with humans
  • Lack of self-grooming
  • Spending less time outdoors

How can I care for a senior cat?

It is essential for aging cats to have more visits to the veterinary clinic, so schedule vet appointments at least twice a year. Blood test, urine analysis, dental cleaning, and full body examination should be administered at each visit. 

Aside from regular medical checkups, you can keep your senior cat healthy and happy in many ways! Provide nutritionally balanced meals. Keep her groomed and check for unusual lumps and bumps as you brush her hair. Give her enough attention and space, and make her feel as comfortable as possible. Also, turn your home into a senior cat-friendly area! Modify the paths she usually takes (carpets and slippery surfaces may discourage her to walk). Find horizontal scratching surfaces or easy access lookouts. And finally, provide more litter boxes throughout your home.  

Read up on more cat-related articles in our blog! Discover which human food cats can safely eat, or find out how to deal with cat eye problems.

The Best Food to Feed an Elderly Cat

Just like us, cats go through various life stages and have different needs at every stage. It’ll take years before they are officially called “seniors,” but once they reach the age of 7, their metabolism and activity levels may start to slow down. As such, their nutritional needs alter as well. This Waldo’s Friends article Read More...

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Just like us, cats go through various life stages and have different needs at every stage. It’ll take years before they are officially called “seniors,” but once they reach the age of 7, their metabolism and activity levels may start to slow down. As such, their nutritional needs alter as well. This Waldo’s Friends article delves into the best food that should be fed to senior cats, and discusses:

How old is a senior cat? shares that cats go through 6 stages in their lives, namely: kitten (from birth to 6 months), junior (7 months to 2 years), prime (3 to 6 years), mature or middle-aged (7 to 10 years), senior (11 to 14 years), and geriatric (15 years and above). 

As your pet cat gets older, you should be more vigilant in looking after her well-being. After she turns 7 years old, it is recommended that she undergoes wellness exams every six months instead of annually. Plus, you should be more observant of changes in your cat’s behaviour, her toilet habits, and what she eats or how much she consumes.

When should I switch to senior cat food?

There is no hard and fast rule as to when you should switch to food specially made for senior cats. It all depends on your cat’s needs, issues she may be experiencing, and your veterinarian’s recommendations. Hence, it is essential to consult with your veterinarian and run tests before modifying your cat’s diet. These goals should be considered and discussed with your vet as well:

  • Keeping or losing body weight
  • Maintaining body muscle 
  • Decreasing symptoms of a pre-existing illness
  • Preventing or slowing down of a chronic illness

Some veterinarians recommend a change in a cat’s diet when they manifest early signs of an illness. PetMD lists the most common diseases that ails senior cats:

  • Cancer
  • Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome
  • Dental disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Osteoarthritis

If you suspect that your cat may be suffering from any of these diseases, set an appointment with your veterinarian and share your observations. 

What should be in my senior cat’s food?

Once your aging cat’s physical exams and wellness test findings are complete, the vet can recommend the best meal plan for her. Remember to transition her food slowly by doing a gradual seven-day switch, and choose meals with high-quality ingredients to keep her healthy and strong. Most, if not all, of senior cat food should contain:

  • High levels of antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, and E, carotenoids, and selenium are known to be powerful antioxidants. Food packed with these antioxidants help break the cycle of molecular and cellular damage by donating electrons to free radicals. 
  • Moderate to high levels of fat: Since aging cats have a harder time digesting fat, the amount of fat they consume needs to be adjusted depending on their body condition score. Those with diabetes, colitis, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may benefit from meals high in fat, while overweight cats should have less. 
  • Right amount of protein: Older cats also have a difficult time digesting protein. Compounded by difficulty in digesting fat, this may result in loss in body fat and muscle mass. Therefore, protein intake should be closely monitored in senior cats so they stay within their ideal weight. Older cats suffering from chronic kidney failure, colitis, IBD, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism should go on diets with highly digestible protein.
  • Low levels of phosphorus: The kidneys are responsible for removing excess phosphorus from the bloodstream. When a cat suffers from chronic kidney disease (CKD), she is unable to process phosphorus, other compounds, and waste products within her body. High levels of phosphorus may damage your cat’s body, pulling calcium out of her bones and making her feel weak. Therefore, cat food high in quality protein but low in phosphorus should be served to senior cats with CKD.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Said to aid cats with cancer, arthritis, and cognitive dysfunction, these polyunsaturated fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects. They are commonly found in cold-water fish oils such as salmon, anchovies, and sardines.

Aside from the aforementioned ingredients, cat food rich in dietary fiber can benefit those with colitis, constipation, or anal gland disease. Meanwhile, meals high in taurine but low in sodium can benefit senior cats with heart diseases. 

Other reminders for feeding older cats:

  • Since their senses have started to wane, it is important to serve your aging cat more palatable meals that smell irresistible, taste great, have a good amount of moisture, and offer the texture they prefer. When feeding your senior cat, make sure her dry food contains 10% fat and 28% protein. Meanwhile, wet food should have 4% fat and 8% protein. 
  • Cats with missing teeth or suffering from oral diseases may have an easier time consuming wet food or kibble softened with warm water. Wet or moistened food can also benefit cats with urinary tract issues. 
  • Serve your cat’s food in a clean, shallow dish. Some cats dislike eating from bowls where their whiskers touch the sides.
  • Warming up your cat’s wet food may help it become more palatable and delicious smelling. Make sure to heat it close to but not above body temperature. You can also add some water from a can of unsalted tuna to encourage your cat to eat more. 

Always consult with your veterinarian regarding your cat’s ever-changing nutritional needs. With the proper care and sustenance, your senior cat can stay healthy and purrfectly content until she crosses the rainbow bridge.

Check out our guides to read more articles on responsible cat parenting. Discover the truth about cats and water, or learn how to remove fleas on your cat!

The Best Food to Feed an Elderly Dog

Here at Waldo’s Friends, we are big fans of dogs of all sizes, colours, and ages. Senior dogs hold a special place in our hearts because we’ve encountered some of the sweetest and kindest aging canines over the years. Though they are not as playful and active as young puppies, they still have a lot Read More...

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Here at Waldo’s Friends, we are big fans of dogs of all sizes, colours, and ages. Senior dogs hold a special place in our hearts because we’ve encountered some of the sweetest and kindest aging canines over the years. Though they are not as playful and active as young puppies, they still have a lot of sloppy kisses and warm cuddles to give. 

If you’re wondering about how to care for senior dogs through the food they eat, you’ve come to the right place! This Waldo’s Friends blog post discusses:

But remember, this article should not replace a visit to your veterinarian. This is only meant to be a guide to help you make informed decisions on the well-being of your aging pet. 

How old is a senior dog?

Dogs can go through six life stages. Your dog is considered a puppy when he is born until he is able to reproduce, which is dependent on his breed. He becomes a junior from about 6 to 12 months old, then officially turns into an adult when he stops growing. When he goes past 7 years old, he is considered a mature dog. Then, he is called a senior during the last quarter of his life expectancy, and a geriatric when he goes beyond his breed’s life expectancy.  

Take note that age is only an approximate indicator. In an interview with Fetch, Fred Metzger, DVM revealed that being categorised as senior or geriatric “really depends on the breed and body weight [of a dog]. Large and giant breeds age faster than smaller dogs.” Additionally, your dog can be considered mature when he has reached half of his life expectancy. RSPCA shared a list of the average lifespan of popular dog breeds, ranging from 5.5 years (dogue de bordeaux) to 14.2 years (miniature poodle). As long as your dog is healthy and provided for in every aspect of his life, he may live beyond his breed’s life expectancy. 

When should I switch to senior dog food?

Large-sized dogs are generally called seniors by the time they turn 6 years old. Meanwhile, small-sized dogs more or less become seniors when they hit the 10-year mark. As these beloved dogs grow older, it is common for their health and stamina to deteriorate. As such, aging canines may suffer from these common health problems:

  • Cancer
  • Dementia
  • Gastrointestinal problems 
  • Hearing loss 
  • Heart issues
  • Joint problems
  • Kidney issues 
  • Obesity 
  • Vision loss

Switching your pet’s meals to specially formulated senior dog food is something that you should discuss with your veterinarian. He would most likely run physical exams, blood tests, and other wellness tests to assess your dog’s health before he can recommend the best diet. The new meal plan may include food formulation changes, as well as adjustments to the quantity and frequency of his meals.

What should be in the food of my senior dog?

It’s time to purchase (or even make) your senior dog’s new food after getting your vet’s approval and recommendations. Remember that it should be a well-balanced diet that caters to your dog’s specific needs. If you need to feed him a new brand or type of food, gradually introduce this to him over 7 days to prevent gastrointestinal troubles. Adjust the ratio by slowly increasing the amount of the new food, helping your dog get used to its taste and texture. Stop feeding the new food if your dog vomits or has the runs. 

It is recommended that you give your senior dog food which are:

  • Adequate in protein: Aging dogs need the right amount of high-quality protein (about 25%) to help them retain body weight and muscle mass. Protein also helps keep the body strong by assisting the immune system. However, dogs with kidney issues should have a lower amount of protein in their diet, so it doesn’t put too much strain on their kidneys.
  • High in fiber: Constipation is a common condition of senior dogs, so getting them food rich in fiber (containing 3 to 5%) can assist their bowel movement.  
  • Low in calories: Because older dogs are not as active as young pups, they do not need to use as much energy throughout the day. Low-calorie meals can help prevent obesity, which develops into diabetes in some dogs. 
  • Low in fat: Senior dog food tends to have lower levels of fat (about 8 to 12%), which translates to lower calories. Diabetic dogs will benefit from eating meals that are low in fat but high in fiber. 

Aside from consuming high-quality meals, senior dogs should eat treats low in fat and sodium. Fresh vegetables and fruits, such as carrots and apples, are healthy alternatives. Just make sure his snack portions do not go over his recommended daily intake. 

TIP: Check out which vegetables and fruits dogs can safely eat through our Can Dogs Eat category!

Other reminders for feeding older dogs 

  • Water is essential in keeping aging dogs hydrated. Some diseases or medications cause older dogs to pee frequently, so they need to continuously replenish the lost fluids from their bodies. Place bowls filled with fresh, cool water throughout the house to encourage your senior dog to drink up. 
  • Dry kibble may help reduce gum disease and control tartar buildup in senior dogs. But if your dog is used to eating wet food, he may not appreciate the switch.
  • If your dog isn’t too keen on eating dry food, you can add some warm water or chicken broth to make it more palatable. Adding a small amount of canned dog food might also do the trick!
  • If your senior dog doesn’t receive enough nutrients from his food, your veterinarian may recommend feeding him supplements. Dogs suffering from arthritis and joint pain may benefit from eating omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin. These chemicals help decrease inflammation and support the rebuilding of lost cartilage substance. 

If you notice any changes in your senior dog’s energy levels, his appearance, his food/water intake, his behaviour, or his toilet habits, speak with your veterinarian.  

Check out our guides to read more articles on responsible dog parenting. Uncover the best slow feeder bowl to get for your pooch, or learn 10 ways to help an anxious dog.

Things you should know about adopting a senior dog

Making the decision to adopt a pet can be both exciting and difficult. Choosing which dog to bring home can be overwhelming. There are so many different choices between animal shelters, breeds, levels of obedience, size, gender, special needs, and of course, age. Unfortunately, many people overlook adopting a senior dog for various reasons such Read More...

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Making the decision to adopt a pet can be both exciting and difficult. Choosing which dog to bring home can be overwhelming. There are so many different choices between animal shelters, breeds, levels of obedience, size, gender, special needs, and of course, age. Unfortunately, many people overlook adopting a senior dog for various reasons such as vet bills. The most common reason is that many people simply just want a puppy. In this article, we will discuss what defines a senior dog, what to expect, and why you should consider welcoming a senior dog into your home.

What is a senior dog?

Many think defining a senior dog is as simple as recognizing the age of the dog and multiplying it by seven. However, it’s actually a lot more complicated. Dogs can technically be considered a senior between the ages of five and 10 years old. However, this number varies greatly depending on different aspects such as the overall health of the dog, state of their organs, species, breed, and size.

Outside of these factors, there are other ways that can determine if a dog is reaching his or her senior years. Many of these signs aren’t hard to spot because they are quite similar to people. For example, senior dogs can experience dementia which could cause them to look lost or confused in familiar spaces. Other examples include loss of mobility or not getting excited to go play at the dog park or go for walks. While this isn’t guaranteed in every senior dog, it is just some of the common signs dogs show us when getting older.

It is important to remember that dogs are as unique as we are. The way that ageing will impact them is incredibly unique. Just because a dog is listed as a senior at the pet rescue does not mean they will be having accidents, require expensive medications and frequent vet trips, or that they won’t be able to walk, see, or hear properly. There are dogs that are considered seniors that are more active and in better health than those that are considered puppies and there is nothing wrong with that. The senior label is simply an easy way for shelters and adoptive parents to see where the animal is in their life and what potential special needs you can expect now or in the future when adopting this dog.

What to expect when adopting a senior dog

Senior dogs are some of the most unappreciated and dismissed dogs in animal shelters. This is because many people worry about large and frequent vet bills as well as a shorter life span, which is never an easy thing to deal with no matter how long your companion has been in your lives. While all of these reasons are completely understandable, senior dogs need a loving forever home too.

When adopting a senior dog, there are many upsides you can expect that might even make a senior the perfect match for you. For instance, they’re perfect if you are a quiet person who likes to relax or you have a loud and hectic household full of high energy people. Senior dogs are incredibly mellow, and in a lot of cases, they’re very low maintenance. While they still require regular bathroom breaks, they won’t necessarily require the amount of exercise you would be expected to give a puppy. Speaking of bathroom breaks, senior dogs are almost always potty trained which can be incredibly appealing to those who don’t want to deal with the process of potty training a puppy.

While their age may turn off some people, it can actually be a blessing in disguise. When you bring home a senior dog, you aren’t in for any surprises. You won’t take home a 25-pound puppy and end up with a 100-pound beast within a few weeks. What you see is what you get. Additionally, they are very wise and know all of the rules and what is expected of them. They understand that they should ask to go outside to use the bathroom, they know how to walk nicely on and off a leash, and they almost always understand that chewing should be left to toys and not furniture or personal items. Senior dogs are incredibly good listeners and despite popular belief, you can definitely teach an old dog new tricks.

Another worry people have when adopting a senior is the bonding experience. Many express worry that because the dog isn’t a puppy they won’t bond to their adoptive parent. However, in a lot of cases, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Many senior dogs have been abandoned and have special needs that require a bit more care. This can actually create a stronger bond than you would expect. While it makes more sense that your bond would grow stronger with age, it can also grow stronger with needs. These dogs know they have been saved, they know you are helping them, and they appreciate it.

The most important aspect of adopting a senior dog is that you are saving a life. These dogs are overlooked and almost always end up at the bottom of the animal shelters’ least desired list. Even when they are completely healthy and ready to explore the world, they could end up being unwanted because of their age and that simply isn’t fair. Whether a senior dog has one month or five years left, they deserve to live out their last years as their best years in a warm, safe, and loving home.

Photo by Ruby Schmank/Unsplash

How to take care of your senior dog

Every dog is unique. They all come with their own individual strengths and weaknesses. When adopting a senior dog, it is important that you are aware of all of his current medical issues and overall state of health. The best way to do this is to talk to the animal shelter and the vets involved. Additionally, it is always highly recommended that you take the dog for a vet check-up as soon you have adopted him. This will ensure that everything is up to date and nothing has happened since the last check-up.

The most important thing you can do to take care of your senior dog is to ensure they get regular check-ups. Check-ups are the best way to find lumps, bumps, and any other issues that aren’t showing symptoms. Senior dogs experience ageing in various ways at different stages in life, so there is no guarantee what your dog will or will not experience. Paying close attention to your companion and truly learning their behaviour is the best way to ensure they are doing okay. Some of the things you can watch out for are abnormal cognitive behaviours such as looking or acting lost and confused. Additionally, older dogsespecially ones that have been surrendered or abandonedcan experience depression and anxiety. This can wreak havoc on your dog’s well-being and should be treated like any other disease or illness.

Monitoring how much they eat, drink, and how frequently they use the bathroom is also important. You want to make sure they are getting enough hydration and nutrition, as well as using the bathroom enough. Discharges, inability to urinate, and abnormal bowel movements are all signs that something might be wrong. Additionally, dental health can tell you a lot about age, history, and health. Dental disease is common in senior dogs and while it isn’t always serious, you should keep an eye on it. Bad breath, inflamed gums, and difficulty breathing can be signs of ageing as well as underlying health problems that should be examined.

Caring for a senior pet involves a bit more than just watching out for abnormalities in their health. In fact, one of the best ways to take care of your new companion is to ensure they are getting clean water, healthy quality food, and adequate exercise. The first step you should take before bringing home your senior companion is to ensure that your home is geriatric proof. This involves making sure that any dangerous spots are guarded such as stairs and pools. Furthermore, if your dog suffers from vision or hearing loss it is important you make the home as safe and easily accessible as possible. Hearing and vision loss can seem like impossible problems to deal with, but dogs actually handle them well once they learn the layout of the home and adjust to their new routines.

The process of adopting a pet can be incredibly stressful, and senior dogs are no exception. But with the right amount of preparation and support, you can adopt a senior dog with the least amount of stress and worry. The next time you are at the animal shelter looking to adopt a pet, consider a senior dog. It is easy to look at the downsides and think they might end up being expensive or sickly, but that isn’t always the case. It is guaranteed, however, that saving a senior dog’s life will be one of the most priceless and rewarding things you’ll ever experience.