Caring for older dogs
Dogs live for an average of around 12 years, although many live for much longer. Follow our advice to help ensure your pet remains happy and healthy in their mature years.
Keeping your older dog comfortable
Here are some things to keep in mind when you're caring for an older dog:
- Older dogs may need more rest. Somewhere quiet where they won't be disturbed in soft, cosy dog beds away from draughts.
- They may need to go to the toilet more frequently. Discuss incontinence or any other changes in how often they go to the toilet with your vet.
- Keep things easily accessible. Make sure everything your dog needs is within easy reach so they don't have to go too far to find their water, food, toys and bed.
- Give them something to grip. Smooth, slippery floors can be difficult for older dogs to walk on, so put a rug or carpet down to give them something to grip.
Feeding a senior dog
As they get older, a dog's dietary requirements change. It varies with breed and size, but at around seven your dog might benefit from gradually moving onto a diet designed for senior dogs. A vet can advise what's best.
- Monitor how much your pet is eating and drinking and mention any changes in their eating habits or weight to your vet, as there could be an underlying medical reason.
- Make sure they're not competing for food - if you have other, younger dogs in the house, make sure your senior dog can get to their food without having to compete.
Changing needs of older dogs
Although they may be slowing down, senior dogs still need regular exercise and mental stimulation.
- Walking them little and often will help keep their weight down
- Toys and puzzle feeders can keep them entertained.
- Wearing a coat when out and about can help keep them warm and dry.
- Gentle grooming can help you spend quality time with your dog and also gives you the chance to check for lumps and bumps, aches and pains.
- If your dog seems stiff or has trouble with things like getting out of bed and going upstairs, your vet may advise some treatments that can help.
Older dog health and welfare
Older dogs may have poor hearing and/or eyesight, so ask your family to avoid sudden loud noises so that they don't get startled. If your dog appears to be ignoring you, it could be because their hearing has deteriorated. Ask your vet to check them over.
Senior dogs may need their nails trimmed more often if they're exercising less. This is something your vet can do for you.
If you have any concerns about your older dog, always check with a vet. Changes in behaviour may be signs of underlying issues, not just down to old age - so make sure to take them for a regular health check. Some vets even run clinics especially for senior pets.
Find out more about helping your older dog stay happy and healthy.