Question: My dog, Bobby, is about seven years old. Over the last few months he seems to have slowed down a lot and doesn’t have the same energy levels that he used to. What other changes should I expect to see as he ages and how can I best care for my senior dog to help him stay happy/healthy for as long as possible?
Answer: As we mature we notice changes to our bodies and this is the same with animals.
Slowing down is normal for his age and although different breeds of dogs age at different rates, seven is generally considered a middle to senior age and it is quite likely that what you are noticing is the aging process.
I recommend you take him to the vets for an age appropriate health check. They can then advise you on any required health care and the best maintenance programme for him as he moves into this stage of his life.
If you also notice that he seems stiffer in the mornings and is finding it more difficult to get up and down stairs, let your vet know.
Arthritis is common in older dogs, especially in large breeds, but there are many different medications available to help ease the discomfort.
As he ages, you may notice his eyes starting to cloud over with a bluish haze, known as blue eye, but it is not thought to affect vision.
However, if you suspect he has cataracts, which is a white and opaque clouding, please consult your vet for treatment.
A deterioration of hearing is also normal, but if you suspect he doesn’t hear as well as he used to, you should mention it to your vet during his check-up and vaccination visit.
If there is a loss of hearing, take extra care to protect him from hazards that he may not hear.
Check him regularly and if you notice any unusual lumps or bumps, let the vet know.
As your dog ages, many of his basic needs (including diet and exercise) will begin to change.
It is advisable to feed your dog on one of the many senior diets available which have less fat, making it easier to digest.
In general, to give your dog a good quality of life during his senior years he will require more frequent check-ups by the vet.
Additionally, he will require changes to his diet and in some cases alterations to his environment, such as keeping his bed on the ground floor and taking him for less energetic walks.
Giving this extra care will ensure that your dog lives for many more happy years.
- Dr Hansel Geo is a veterinary consultant and surgeon for the BSPCA. Please send questions to [email protected]
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Meryll is a wonderful, beautiful and incredibly gentle pit bull. She is the classical definition of a nanny dog and has one of the calmest temperaments the shelter has ever seen. She is neutered, tick-treated, de-wormed and fully vaccinated.
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