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Taking Care of a Senior Dog

07 Sep 2011 11:34 PM | Working Women (Administrator)
Taking Care of a Senior Dog
Jennifer Fadal
Pet Wellness & Lifestyle Expert

You know the old saying that one human year equals seven dog years!  So, if your dog is seven years old…his body is really more like that of a 49 year old human.  What should you expect as your dog ages?  How can you better care for him so he is comfortable, pain free and happy?  

Many people ask:  When is my dog considered old?  A good rule of thumb is to bring this discussion to the forefront when your dog is approaching his seventh year.  Keep in mind however that smaller breeds are considered adult dogs for a few more years since they typically have a longer life span.  

A seven year old Great Dane is definitely considered a senior dog whereas a seven year old Maltese is hardly that.  Discuss your dog’s age with your vet especially if you begin to notice signs of aging.  

Signs of aging:  Hearing loss, greying around the muzzle, decrease in appetite, blueish or cloudy look to the eyes, hair loss, decrease in energy level and an increase in water intake.

Small lifestyle changes can make your senior pooch more comfortable.  

Bedding: Senior dogs really like their zzz’s so a clean comfortable bed is a must.  There are many varieties of orthopedic beds out there that will take pressure off of sore muscles, joints and ligaments.  

Food: A slight shift in dog food may be helpful as well.  If your dog has become less active, try a senior formula that offers a bit less fat and protein but more glucosamine.  The latter serves as an anti-inflammatory and can promote joint health and manage arthritic pain.  

Supplements:  Speaking of glucosamine and chondroitin.  Try adding a supplement to your pet’s daily diet to further relieve the effects of aging joints.  Glucosamine and Chondroitin can help to reduce inflammation, therefore reducing stiffness and pain. Fish oil is also a great supplement to add.  It aids with skin and coat and is an anti-inflammatory.

Toys- Opt for toys that are a bit softer.  As your dog ages his teeth can become more sensitive.   A softer toy will still give him a ton of fun but will be gentler on his mouth.

Coat- Keep him clean.  Some of my clients say that their senior dog seems more smelly.  Opt for an in between bath spritz that will keep him smelling fresh!

Fresh water-  Other recommendations are to always have fresh water for your senior.   

Manage your expectations of what they can do physically and make sure they don’t over exert.  Especially in hot weather, monitor their outdoor activity closely.

Senior dogs have a lot of love to give.  And if you are considering adopting a dog, you just might want to think about a dog that has a few years under their belt.  As you look into those soulful eyes, just think, potty training is taken care of, they know their manners indoor and out and they are more than happy to have you cuddle up with them for a nap!  

© Jennifer Fadal, Jenn Fadal is a Pet Wellness & Lifestyle Expert.  She is a frequent contributor to the South Tampa Community News, BellaDOG magazine, Pet Product News International as well as other area and industry wide publications.  Jenn is the pet correspondent for Daytime, a syndicated lifestyle show on NBC and the pet correspondent for Better TV, a syndicated lifestyle show part of the Meredith network. She can also be heard on Martha Stewart Living Radio.  Jennifer owns Wag Natural Pet Market on Davis Islands and can be reached at or


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