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How to Care for an Aging Dog

Updated on October 1, 2016

Caring for Your Aging Dog

Our aging dogs are above all part of the family, and as such they deserve the best health care we can provide them. Learning the best foods for an aging dog, the best joint protection tactics, and the top supplements to keep him comfortable for a long pain free life can be a daunting task. Regular vet visits and owner observations are a vital combination for managing your aging pets health as well. That is why I have done the research and put together a few tips to help you begin Caring For an Aging Dog of your own. Easy to follow information covers simple tasks you can easily implement into your dogs day; tasks that will benefit his health and your peace of mind. It may just be time you learn a few tricks your dog can enjoy!

When to Begin Geriatric Screening in Your Aging Dog

(click column header to sort results)
Weight (in Pounds)   
Age to Begin Screening   
 Up to 15 lbs
8 - 10  years
16 to 50 lbs 
6 - 8 years
51 to 80 lbs 
5 - 8 years
Over 80 lbs
4 - 5 years
Knowing how to properly care for your aging dog can be the difference between a short painful life, and a long pain free and healthy life for your K9 companion!
Knowing how to properly care for your aging dog can be the difference between a short painful life, and a long pain free and healthy life for your K9 companion! | Source

What Should Your Aging Dog Be Eating?

Senior Specific Dog Food

Many things in your dog will change as he/she begins to age, nutritional requirements are among the most important. Senior and aging dog nutritional needs are different than those for younger dogs and pups. Here are 6 things to consider for your aging dogs nutritional needs:

  1. Lower-caloric intake
  2. Higher-fiber intake
  3. Senior dog specific dog foods
  4. Low fat/sodium treats
  5. More water intake
  6. Supplements

A fat dog is NOT a healthy Dog! It is your job to watch your ageing dogs waistline!
A fat dog is NOT a healthy Dog! It is your job to watch your ageing dogs waistline! | Source

What Are Senior Specific Dog Foods?

One of the greatest disservices we do for our aging dogs is allow them to get obese. As their activity slows over the years, so does their metabolism. Thus, we have to take measures to provide a healthy senior specific food source for our "mid-life crisis" canines. If your dog gets fat, this can present a greater probability for disease and illness. Senior specific dog foods have a revised formula to help control weight issue as well as offering intervention for "breed specific" conditions.

Today, your veterinarian has at his/her disposal a myriad of Senior Dog Food formulas, and thus can find the correct choice for your aging dogs breed or condition. It is important to discuss what your vet feels will be the best combination of cost and nutrition for your furry best friend.

Regular veterinarian check-ups are recommended for your pets, and aging pets in particular.
Regular veterinarian check-ups are recommended for your pets, and aging pets in particular. | Source

Most Importantly, Get Regular Vet Checks

The Importance of Getting Your Aging Dog Regular Veterinarian Check-ups

Like humans, as dogs age they can encounter health issues. If diseases, conditions, and general aging indicators get ignored, those later years can make for a difficult life. The best way to keep your aging or senior canine in good shape, is to get regular veterinarian check-ups. Regularly visiting your vet can save you money, and painful heartache.

When you take your pet for regular vet check-ups, this familiarizes the dog doctor with your animal. The check-ups create records for grading and comparing through the years. Visits provide priceless records that help in early detection of dog disorders. Your vet should be the one person that knows your aging dog better than you!

Along with those regular vet checks, it is your duty as a pet owner to keep an eye on your dog. Watch for certain changes and conditions that may be happening to your aging dog. Here are few things you can watch for:

What Your Veterinarian Looks for

You should be monitoring your pet on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Let your vet know if you find any suspicions about your senior dogs health.

Aging Signs, Diseases, and Conditions in Dogs

  • Heart Disease- Difficulty breathing, coughing, weight loss
  • Arthritis- Stiffness, limping, trouble getting up, trouble jumping, trouble climbing stairs
  • Cancer- Lumps or bumps, tiredness, loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal bloating
  • Kidney or Liver Disease- Change in weight, appetite, urination, or water consumption
  • Diabetes- Weight loss, weight gain, thirsty, increased urination, excess in pee-pee accidents
  • Cognitive (brain) Disorders- Disorientation, vocalizations, uncharacteristic pee-pee accidents, any change in regular behaviour
  • Dental Disease- Loss of appetite, bad breath, bleeding gums

If you notice your dog is displaying any of these symptoms or signs, call your vet for a check-up right away!

Healthy vs Osteoarthritic Dog Joint

A Healthy versus Osteoarthritic dog joint. Osteoarthritis causes the deterioration of an afflicted dogs joints.
A Healthy versus Osteoarthritic dog joint. Osteoarthritis causes the deterioration of an afflicted dogs joints. | Source

Monitoring Your Aging Dogs Joint Health

Pay Attention to Your Middle Aged Dogs Joint Health

Arthritis is another concern when it comes to your senior pets health. It is also known as degenerative joint disease, and afflicts 1 out of 5 adult dogs, but the ratio grows higher as your dog ages. Joint problems of this nature are considered chronic and can be very painful, limiting your dogs motion. K9 Arthritis is caused by the breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the bones, preventing them from rubbing directly against one another at the joint. This joint condition may be the result of regular wear and tear, as a result of an injury, or because of the degenerative disease itself.

Healthy Active Dogs

Healthy Joints keep your dog Happy and  Active!
Healthy Joints keep your dog Happy and Active! | Source

What You Can Do to Help Aging Dogs Cope with Arthritis

Arthritis in not something that is curable, but there are ways you can help your dog to manage it:

  • Consult your Veterinarian (Regular vet visits help to curb any surprise finding in your older dogs health. Early detection is always best)
  • Give your dog a natural joint supplement (Dasuquin is one natural joint dynamo that works together with glucosamine and chondroitin to protect cartilage)
  • Prevent weight gain (senior specific dog foods, and low-fat snacks like carrots keep weight appropriate. An over weight dog compounds the joint pain as excess weight adds pressure to the painful bone-on-bone contact)
  • Keep him exercising and moving as much as possible (Natural lubrication is increased through movement. This also keeps his heart and weight healthy)
  • Keep nails trimmed back (long nails compound an arthritic dogs unstable condition by slipping and sliding on certain surfaces)
  • Make sure your dog has a comfortable soft bed (never hard cold cement patios!)
  • Raise feeding dishes off of the ground for your stiff dog (reduces stretching and support issues)
  • Provide non-skid ramps for cars, stairs, and backdoor access (don't force your dog into isolation because he has joint pain, provide him pain-free access to his family)
  • Get a lifting harness (these disperse the weight so your aging dog won't get hurt. Check with your vet for the type and size that is best suited for your dog)

DOG YEARS COMPARED TO HUMAN YEARS CONVERSION CHART

(click column header to sort results)
CALENDAR YEAR   
DOG UNDER 20 lbs. (9kg)   
DOG 20 - 50 lbs. (9 - 23 kg)  
DOG 50 - 90 lbs. (23 - 41 kg)  
DOG OVER 50 lbs. (over 41 kg)  
1
15 
15 
14
12
2
23
24 
22 
20 
28
29 
29
28
 32
34 
34
35
5
36 
38 
40 
42 
6
40 
42
45 
49 
7
44 
47
50 
56 
8
48
51 
55 
64 
9
52
56
61 
71 
10
56 
60 
66 
78 
11
60
65 
72 
86 
12
64
69 
77 
93 
13
68
74
82 
101 
14
72 
78
88
108 
15
76 
83
93
115 
16
80
87
99
123 
17
84
92
104 
-- 
18
88 
96
109 
-- 
19
92 
101
115 
-- 
20
96
105
120 
-- 
It would be incorrect to say 1 human year is equal to 7 dog years as is the most popular conversion. Many factors such as dog breed, life style, and canine care impact the conversion. This "DOG YEARS TO HUMAN YEARS" is a more correct conversion.

Comments for "Caring for an Aging Dog, Tricks Your Old Dog Needs You to Learn"

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  • TENKAY profile image

    TENKAY 4 years ago from Philippines

    My almost 9-year-old shih tzu was limping lately... so I decided to give this article another visit. A week of low-fat diet and more leisure walks to the park made a great improvement on her gait, so no visit to the vet yet. Thanks. Oh by the way, she had 2 beautiful pups last year.

  • profile image

    SNapier 4 years ago

    I have a lab mix who will be 17 in september . I can not imagine my life without him but he is showing signs of aging. How will I know if he is in pain? Also he sleeps a lot anymore.

  • Paulart profile image

    Paulart 5 years ago from 2510 Warren Avenue Cheyenne,Wyoming 82001

    Great information is given on this hub. I love to read it.

  • K9keystrokes profile image
    Author

    India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

    TENKAY~ I knew you would make the right choice! You have a very lucky dog!

    HubHugs~

    K9

  • TENKAY profile image

    TENKAY 5 years ago from Philippines

    Thanks K9. I guess vet visit is necessary sooner than I thought.

  • K9keystrokes profile image
    Author

    India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

    TENKAY~ It would depend on whether or not she has had a litter before now. It sounds like you keep her in really good health, which makes a huge difference! My advice would be to make an appointment with your favorite vet for a pre-pregnancy check-up. This is the best and safest way to make sure your darling little gal is good to go. Your vet can prescribe a custom pregnancy diet just for your shih tzu friend. Let me know how it turns out! Shih tzu pups are really cute!!

    Thanks for another great question! Happy Tails!

    Cheers~

    K9

  • TENKAY profile image

    TENKAY 5 years ago from Philippines

    so my baby is 44 human-years old already. I guess I have to be more careful with her diet. Do you think she can still have puppies? What food would be best for her if she can still get pregnant? Its almost ovulation time for her. She is active - we have 30 mins walk 4 to 5 times a week. She is getting heavier though. By the way she is a toy dog, shih tzu, weighing approximately 6 kilos.

  • Paulart profile image

    Paulart 5 years ago from 2510 Warren Avenue Cheyenne,Wyoming 82001

    Great information on hub.

  • Sinea Pies profile image

    Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

    OK...so my Yellow Lab, Lexi, is equivalent to about 49.(We rescued her and the former owner never kept track of her age). We'll be starting to introduce these pre-senior helps now. Bookmarking this hub. Voted up and useful and I'm also going to like it for my FB friends to read. Thanks!

  • K9keystrokes profile image
    Author

    India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

    Robin~ I adore German Shepard's! You are obviously doing a great job with yours as hip issues are quite prominent in the breed. So at 77, your old gal is doing just beautifully! It speaks volumes as to the quality of life her human caretakers offer her. Thank you so much for sharing your "tail" with us today. I always enjoy seeing you have stopped by for a read, and your aging dog is surly pleased as well! ;)

    HubHugs~

    K9

  • Robin profile image

    Robin Edmondson 5 years ago from San Francisco

    Wonderful tips, K9! Our sweet German Shepherd is 77 according to your graph. She is still in really good shape, no hip issues, etc, but I have noticed her having more skin irritation problems as she ages. Thanks for all the tips on keeping her healthy! Cheers!

  • K9keystrokes profile image
    Author

    India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

    Brian~ You are so right. It is a very sad thing to know the life of your dog is generally far shorter than that of your own. Taking the best care of your dog is the most promising way to ensure him/her the longest possible time with you. I feel that using these tips for keeping your aging dog healthy longer, are well worth the effort! Thank you for sharing your thoughts here today. Wishing you and your K9 friend a long and healthy partnership!

    Cheers~

    K9

  • Brian Burton profile image

    Brian Burton 5 years ago

    Lots of great tips and on a topic that so many of us have to sadly deal with.

  • K9keystrokes profile image
    Author

    India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

    stephhicks68~ Such a joy to see you here this morning! You are a hero in my eyes; anyone who adopts a shelter dog is just alright by me! I admire that you are going to be adapting for your Dogs lifestyle according to his aging years. Those regular vet visits are going to help you guys have a wonderfully aware life together! I hope your husband finds the hub useful! I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me today.

    Big HubHugs~

    K9

  • K9keystrokes profile image
    Author

    India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

    PegCole~ First, I like your new profile image! Next, Thanks so much for stopping by. We had a wolf-hybrid (Micky) that also suffered from hip problems as she aged. I wish we had all of the great joint maintenance supplements then, that are available now. Sounds like your Buckwheat had a long love-filled life with you, nothing means more to a dog; of this I am sure...

    The oldest recorded dog is 127 (in dog years) so your fuzzy friend had an amazingly long adventure! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Peg.

    HubHugs~

    K9

  • K9keystrokes profile image
    Author

    India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

    Flora~ I would say a good majority of these pointers would apply to aging cats as much as they aging dogs. I think it is awesome that you rescued adult cats...it just goes to show how big your heart is! Wishing you long whiskered dreams my friend!

    HubHugs~

    K9

  • stephhicks68 profile image

    Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

    I was surprised to learn that our dog (adopted from the shelter) may be 40-45 years old! We brought him home 4 years ago when he was 1.5-2 years old. I'm definitely going to share this article with my husband. We need to start watching for aging signs and get more regular vet checkups. Super hub - love the graphs and your photos and illustrations. Best, Steph

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

    This is truly important information for any dog owner. We'd always used the 7 dog year method versus this conversion chart. Our Buckwheat was a large flat coated Retriever weighing 88 pounds at one point. She actually lived to be 16 years old when her hips finally gave out. That would have made her 123! What a girl she was. Thanks for the info. Good stuff.

  • FloraBreenRobison profile image

    FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

    Well, my cat was old when I adopted her three years ago. We think that she is 13 in our years, but that is just a guess.

  • K9keystrokes profile image
    Author

    India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

    kerlynb~ I have some wonderful memories left on my heart from past pets, which are treasures I hold close. Each of these dogs lived to be quite old and enjoyed long happy lives, with peaceful passing. I am sure if you take precautions, coupled with your love for your fuzzy friends, they will encounter the same. Nonetheless, it is never easy to lose a friend...the two or four-legged kind. I bid you and yours, a long loyal and loving lifetime!

    Cheers~

    K9

  • K9keystrokes profile image
    Author

    India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

    Cags~ Always a joy to see you in the neighborhood! You have lucky cats that I am sure enjoy good health due to those annual vet checks. Thanks for leaving your thoughts here today, I am thrilled you approve!

    HubHugs~

    K9

  • K9keystrokes profile image
    Author

    India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

    ktrapp~ You are a good dog friend for sure! So glad to be part of your little Beagles good health plan!

    HubHugs~

    K9

  • kerlynb profile image

    kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

    Awww... my boy is now 48 years old based on your table. He's a bit advanced in age. Makes me feel sad he might be leaving this world really soon :(

  • Cagsil profile image

    Cagsil 5 years ago from USA or America

    Okay K9, now I don't own a dog, but I did find your hub very useful for any person Caring for an Aging Dog. I found your title to be play on words, but amusing. I have two cats, which do see a vet each year. I'm sure that your hub will help a lot of people who are Caring for an Aging Dog. Definitely voted up! :)

  • ktrapp profile image

    Kristin Trapp 5 years ago from Illinois

    You just inspired me to make a bookmark folder for good dog information I come across, and this hub will be its first entry. I am going to need your 2 charts for years to come. Thanks. Voted Up and useful.

  • K9keystrokes profile image
    Author

    India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

    ktrapp~ I know what you mean about hesitating to even think about your dog aging. It is very rough to lose a k9 pal too early. Sounds to me like you have the right idea with taking up some regular prevention to help your young dog transition gracefully and painlessly into maturity and middle age. Your little Beagle would seem to be in loving hands! I am very pleased that you like the age and screening charts, they make it a little easier to get your aging dog information at a glace! Thank you so much for sharing your thought here today, I appreciate the feedback.

    Cheers~

    k9

  • ktrapp profile image

    Kristin Trapp 5 years ago from Illinois

    I hesitated before I read this article, because I don't even want to think about my one-year old beagle aging and being in poor health. Right now she is so vibrant and active that it is hard to imagine that changing. But I'm so glad I read all the information you presented because you have given some good information about prevention. I am going to pay careful attention to my puppy's food over the years to make sure she is eating the right type of food for her calorie and metabolism needs. Also, thank you for all the helpful information on charts with ages. I was still thinking of each dog year as seven human years but I see now that is not necessarily the case.

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