At Warwick Animal Hospital in Newport News, VA, we love providing senior dogs with the care and support they need to age gracefully and comfortably. We understand that caring for senior dogs can be immensely rewarding and can enhance and enrich their lives. We also love providing insight and guidance into caring for senior dogs.
It is important to remember that many changes can occur as your dog ages. These include:
- Changes in eyesight
- Diminished hearing
- Cardiac and kidney disease
- Arthritis and muscle mass loss
- Cognitive dysfunction
- And many others
Some of these changes may not become noticeable until your dog is very old. Our veterinarian is accomplished at detecting subtle changes in a dog's body that might easily go unnoticed by its owner. Early detection of these changes can help prevent the progression of disease and minimize the suffering of a senior dog.
Schedule Regular Veterinarian Visits for Senior Dogs
Because many of these conditions will develop gradually, it can be difficult for an owner to notice the changes occurring. During the senior wellness exam, our doctors and staff will ask you questions that specifically target medical issues common to senior dogs. Working together with you, we will develop a great plan to ensure optimal health for your dog.
It is important to remember that dogs age much more quickly than humans. Therefore, we recommend all senior dogs visit their veterinarian at least twice a year.
Senior dog care visits provide an opportunity to discuss your dog's well-being as he or she ages. This visit typically includes discovery regarding:
- Daily schedule
- Sleep patterns
- Family interactions
- Exercise and changes in movement
In addition, during a complete physical examination for senior dogs, we analyze your senior dog's:
- Blood work
- Ears and eyes
- Weight and body condition
- Skin and coat quality
- Mouth, gums, and teeth
- Thyroid gland
- Heart and circulatory system
- Lungs and nose
- Joints and muscles
- Any condition changes since the last visit
Your Senior Dog's Physical Condition
Evaluating your dog's physical condition is an essential part of a senior dog's healthcare program. Your senior dog's physical condition can be crucial in determining whether they are overweight, underweight, or at the ideal body weight.
Carrying extra weight is especially difficult for a senior dog and will impact their quality of life. At the same time, too much weight loss may be a sign of illness.
Making Wise Food Choices for Your Senior Dog
Good nutrition is essential throughout your dog's life. However, making wise food choices for your senior dog is an integral part of senior dog care. Due to decreased physical activity and a slower metabolism, aging dogs may need 20 percent fewer total calories than middle-aged adult dogs. However, some older dogs may not be able to digest proteins as well as they used to.
Generally speaking, aging dogs tend to gain weight, and as they do, they become at risk for possible health complications. For example, it may take obese dogs longer for their blood glucose concentrations to return to normal. This disrupted carbohydrate metabolism can lead to diabetes.
For these reasons, it is important to consult your veterinarian about the best food option for your senior canine companion. Specially formulated senior dog foods:
- are easier to digest;
- might address liver, kidney, or urinary issues; and
- can help with the general nutritional needs specific to senior dogs.
Your Senior Dog and Exercise
Although your senior dog cannot jump as high or run as fast as he or she could in their prime, exercise is still an essential component of any senior dog care regimen. Dogs tend to age better both physically and mentally when daily exercise, such as a short walk, is a part of their routine. However, an important rule of thumb is to keep their exercise both regular and moderate. Keep up with daily or every-other-day walks and limit the duration according to the dog's fitness level and fatigue. Just as in humans, exercise can also:
- Help maintain a healthy weight
- Heighten motor skills and coordination faculties
- Slow the progression of arthritis
- Stimulate cognitive capacity
Of course, the physical condition of your senior dog will ultimately determine exercise duration and frequency. We recommend consulting your veterinarian about the most appropriate and effective exercise routine for your canine friend.
Schedule your senior dog for an appointment today. Call us at 757-595-3337.