How do I care for my older dog?

When will my dog ​​get older?

Just like us, dogs gradually get older – there is no precise age at which they will “get older”, but they can usually be considered older between 5 and 9 years of age. The age at which your pet is classified as “older” depends on which dog you have, as smaller dogs typically have a much longer lifespan than giant breeds.

Large and giant breeds can show signs of aging a little earlier, while small dogs, which generally live the longest, don’t get older until they are eight or nine years old.

Lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, and medical history all play a role in an older dog’s lifespan. It is important, however, that your later years together be some of your most rewarding. After all, you are both wiser and older!

Read our tips below on how to make your dog’s later years of life the most rewarding.

Family life

Brown dog is sleeping

Just like us, your dog will appreciate a big, soft bed to snuggle into, especially if they have sore joints. Put it in a warm and quiet place, away from drafts. Always make sure they have a bowl of clean water nearby so they don’t hunt for it or drive up and down stairs unnecessarily.

When you’re out and about, you may find that your older dog is no longer as agile as it used to be. Arthritic joints can make it difficult for them to jump in and out of the car. Hence, you may need to lift a small dog or provide a ramp for your larger older friend.

Avoiding obesity is very important for your older dog as weight gain can lead to medical problems. In addition to managing their diet, they need to make sure they continue to exercise regularly. Your veterinarian can help you put together a suitable diet and training plan for your older dog that takes into account all underlying conditions, such as osteoarthritis.

Jack Russell Terrier is running
Terrier is playing outside

As your dog gets older, he will appreciate a constant daily routine. This is important for your older dog’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

Old dog is resting

If you suspect that your older dog’s hearing is not as sharp as it used to be, try to avoid any surprise situations. For example, avoid making sudden loud noises when they are sleeping. If their eyesight is poor, make sure everyone in the house knows they are walking toward them slowly and quietly to avoid the jarring.

Labrador outside with the owner

Remember, none of us are getting any younger. So, be kind and patient as your older dog gets used to all of their physical and mental changes. As a loving dog owner, make sure you give them the same care and commitment that you always have – it will still be just as rewarding. With great veterinary care and some changes to your daily routine, you can improve the quality of life for your older dog for many years to come.

Older Dog Diet

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Changing needs

Beagle outside with the owner

As the owner of an older dog, it’s important to understand changing nutritional needs. From the age of seven (depending on their race) they will make life a little easier for themselves. Older dogs are less active than they used to be and have a slower metabolism so they don’t need as many calories. As the body slows down, it uses less energy, so the tendency towards fat deposition increases. What older dogs need to maintain their healthy weight is high quality, easily digestible protein.

A special dog food for seniors will ensure that your older dog’s new needs are met and may be easy on the stomach and teeth as well. You can find more information in our How to feed an older dog side.

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Labrador is waiting to be fed

If your older dog is reluctant to eat, check with your veterinarian to see if there is no medical reason. There could be a very simple solution – like feeding them little and often, varying the textures and flavors in their food, or warming it up a little to unleash those delicious smells!

Purina brands for senior dogs

Several Purina brands offer formulas specifically designed to meet the needs of older dogs. Try one of the following formulas for your pet:

Regular check-ups

Older dogs, like us, can be more prone to certain health problems. Some of these can be a natural part of aging, but other health issues in older dogs are very treatable. Regular check-ups are the best way to keep your dog in good health during its final years of life.

Regular checkups are a must for your older dog’s health, so some veterinary practices have specialized nursing clinics for older pets. These appointments give your veterinarian a chance to weigh your older dog and give him a thorough check-up. If they have any concerns, they can take blood and urine tests and test them for certain diseases that are known to affect older dogs. Vaccinations, worms, and flea treatments must continue into your dog’s final years.

Retriever at veterinarians
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Skin, fur, and nails

To keep your older dog’s skin, coat, and nails healthy, have a special grooming session at least once a week, especially if you have a long-haired breed. Bathing your older dog regularly can be a good idea. However, be careful if he has joint problems and always make sure the water is warm and he is in a comfortable environment. Keep an eye on your nails as they are less active now and may not be as worn out as they were before. If you suspect they are feeling uncomfortable, or if you find that the nail has grown into the paw pad (like a human ingrown toenail), take it to the vet.

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Dental checks

Because older dogs are prone to gum disease and plaque buildup, it is important that you take your older dog with you to routine dental appointments as well as regular health checkups.

Signs and Symptoms of Aging

In addition to lots of love and proper nutrition, it is important to know what to look for in order to keep your pet as healthy and happy as possible through the golden years. You may notice some of the following signs of aging at home and your veterinarian can help treat them.

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If you recognize any of the above symptoms or are concerned about other signs of illness, such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss or weight gain, or a sedentary lifestyle, contact your veterinarian.

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