Updated on 10/23/19
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Senior dogs have different care needs than those of a younger dog.
As some of you loyal loving subscribers know, our yellow Labrador, Jesse, passed away April 3rd 2019. In her late senior years, not only was she slowing down and unable to hear, but we also noticed behavioral changes.
We have our 9 year old black Labrador, Riley, and I am making sure she gets support and care to help her age slowly and as comfortable as possible.
Senior Dog Care tips and questions we will cover:
- How can I tell if my Senior dog is in pain?
- What do Senior dogs need?
- Behavior changes
- Senior Dog Care products
What is considered “senior” age for a dog?
Facts are that dogs age a lot faster than humans, it’s inevitable. In general larger dogs, like Labradors, age faster than smaller dogs. I have a post on dog breeds that give the life span for the top 10 most popular family dog breeds. You can refer to that for more of an idea of average life spans. A “senior” Chihuahua might be 10-11 years of age while a “senior” Labrador Retriever may be seven. Regardless, it’s good to know the signs and treatments that can help!
How can I tell if my senior dog is in pain?
Humans often can’t tell when their dog is in pain because they don’t cry and may not always show physical signs, like limping. So paying attention to signs like withdrawal or aggression are important. A lot of the time, pain can cause behavior changes. A dog that is usually sweet and calm, that suddenly becomes aggressive, could be a sure sign they are in pain. I am grateful Jesse never showed any aggression!
Other signs may be:
- Yelp or growling
- Be sensitive to touch or resent normal handling
- Be less active or distant
- Become depressed and stop eating
- Have rapid, shallow breathing and an increased heart rate
This is also very important if you are thinking about adopting a Senior Dog. If you have kids, they NEED to understand they can’t climb all over the new family member. Riley is 9 and we give her CBD oil everyday for her joint pain. It really helps her. See our blog on CBD hemp oil for dogs here. We affiliate with WIHemp Scientific who help to donate CBD to dog shelters!
Senior Dog Behavior changes
One night I was trying to sleep and Jesse kept wining and barking. Although she was laying right next to me on her dog bed, she would just bark at random. She didn’t need to go out so I just pet her, letting her know I was there, until she stopped. We would find her randomly staring off into space and barking for no reason.
I learned as dogs age they will most likely develop Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) or Canine Cognitive Decline (CCD), starting at age 10-ish for Labradors or large breeds. This is similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. As the dog brain ages, the chemicals in the brain decrease. This can cause:
- Disorientation or changes in learned behavior
- Anxiety or fear
- Sleep Interruption
- Soiling in the house
- Compulsive behaviors
Anxiety, fear and compulsion can be one of the first signs of Cognitive Dysfunction. CBD Hemp oil can help, I wish I had known more about it when Jesse was still with us! They can also start to forget commands or wander around in what has always been familiar territory.
Once the dementia behaviors start, there is little we can do to reverse but we can slow the process and help them to be more comfortable.
What we can do to help them age comfortably
If you recognize any of these changes in your dog as they get older, talk to your vet. There could be other medical conditions going on and treatment options available. For example, if they are having accidents in the house, it could be due to a medical condition.
- Exercising your senior dog is important and can help them stay mentally and physically fit! I have many blogs about this. Using their brains so they stay stimulated helps slow down the aging process. So keep working with them! They also lose muscle mass, so we have strength and conditioning products for senior dogs here on our sister website.
- Nutrition is also key! I wrote about how bad commercial dog food is. You need to know what they are eating! I feed my dogs Taste of the Wild and they absolutely love it. I have seen healthy changes in them since I switched and very shiny coats! Riley has lost weight and the dogs seem so much happier! Healthy snacks like pumpkin, carrots and cucumbers also help!
- Omega 3 supplements can help their immune system as a source of healthy fatty acids. (Taste of the wild has this!)
- Melatonin can help senior dogs that have trouble sleeping at night. It can aid them if start having their days and nights mixed up.
- Milk Thistle is good for their eyes and liver.
- CBD hemp oil for pain and anxiety. AKC says to make sure you buy organic and not to price shop. You want the good stuff. That is why we get ours from WIHempScientific. They specialize in not only the CBD products, but the hemp extraction (verses pre-made CBD) and Cannabinoid testing. (Which not a lot of hemp companies offer.) You can scan the QR code of any bottle to get the test results. Here is a link for the CBD hemp oil, and you can use code DOG10 for 10% off!
- You can find more senior dog products for low cost at Chewy! Like ramps, orthopedic dog beds and more! Plus Taste of the Wild dog food!
Seeing our dogs reach their senior age is so hard. I wish they lived longer! But since they are only here a decade or so, it’s so important to keep them healthy so they are physically with us as long as possible.
It does give a little relief to know they are connected to us through the soul. So it may be a shorter time they are with us in this physical lifetime, but they are always with us!
I hope you found this helpful. Many blessings to you and your dogs as they grow older!
The Dog Connection
Reference: AKC Kennel Club