27th March 2019
Have you noticed signs that your dog is entering the older phase of life? Have you noticed any new or developing concerns your dog has shown towards the environment? Has your dog displayed any social behaviours that have changed as they have gotten older and slower?
Age creeps up on all of us. As we live and see our dogs on a daily basis, some of them can be easy to miss. Dogs age at different rates and a lot has to do with the breed type and size. Unfortunately, we cannot turn back life’s clock but there is a lot we can do to provide the extra security and safety they need as they age. Here are my top tips for you on noticing some of the early signs of behavioural change and how to look after your pet as it enters those twilight years.
Common signs in older dogs:
- Loss of vision deteriorating eyesight is likely one of the most common conditions.
- Incontinence, yes it happens to our dogs too.
- Gaining or loss of weight and muscle thus affecting their coordination and natural agility.
- Play change to the passive use of senses. A dog’s energy levels will change and you are likely to observe more passive behaviours where they are happier to stroll and explore in more detail.
- A change is social behaviour can be common towards pups or adolescents that are loaded with bags of energy and sometimes crude social skills. You may even notice some uncharacteristic reactive behaviour in your dog towards them where they have previously been much more socially tolerant.
- Heightened sensitivity to noise can also be common.
- A lapse in response time as the brain slows up a little. Your dog may not respond to you as sharply as it used to, that’s totally natural.
So, what can do to make things better and more comfortable for your pet? The first thing to be aware of is that individual safety is paramount and foremost in their minds. Remember that older dogs can still live rich emotional lives. As long as they feel safe and secure, they can grow old gracefully and still keep their minds sharp with the appropriate level of exposure and enrichment to help them along.
- Take note on any environmental concerns and where possible adjust your walking places if you observe any heightened fear responses. Also, take note of any overreactions to things such as bright lights and noise.
- Appreciate that a lapse in bodily functions is natural in your dog and reassure them that it is okay.
- Adjust the diet and speak to your vet if your dog goes off his food. They may become more sensitive to some foods and be in need of a change in the type of food and also how much they are given to eat.
- Be aware of where your dog has difficulty in moving or negotiating some walking terrains. They may be more cautious and careful of some gradients or anywhere they feel vulnerable such as bridges, styles and steep woodland areas.
- Allow time for quiet undisturbed sleep and rest, older dogs do tend to rest and sleep longer. Some of their perfect days are just spent hanging around the home.
- Build their confidence levels and keep it up through a stimulating variety of enrichment and full use of their senses. They may come down in energy levels but be up for some problems solving tasks.
- Observe which walks are too much in terms of distance and meeting other dogs if they show any social concerns.
- Choose quiet places to rest and be together to provide comfort and security while enjoying each other’s company.
Remember that older dogs can still live rich emotional lives. As long as they feel safe and secure, they can grow old gracefully and still keep their minds sharp with the appropriate level of exposure and enrichment to help them along. If you have an older dog and you would like to know how to spice up its life and make the necessary changes to help your dog adjust please contact me at the email below.