Plan For Their Care: Give Them A Lifetime of Love
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Pet Week

Plan For Their Care: Give Them A Lifetime of Love

by Andrew Ehlert

Written By: Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva, VMD, cVMA | Professional Services Veterinarian, Wild Earth

Thankfully, modern dog food as well as modern medicine and higher quality of care allows our pets to live longer now than they could have before. But even though on average dogs are living longer than they typically have before, it is still important that you provide them with the extra care and attention they deserve to help them live a happy and healthy life.

As your dog ages, the likelihood that they develop age-related disease increases, and therefore it becomes even more important that they be evaluated by a veterinarian regularly. This way problems can be caught early and treated before they become more advanced or life-threatening. There are also many changes you can make at home to help improve their quality of life as they age.

How Old Is A "Senior Pet"?

The exact age at which your dog is considered senior will vary based on their breed and ultimately their size. The general age at which a pet is considered senior is seven years of age, with small dogs becoming seniors at a later age and larger dogs becoming seniors before seven.

A long standing myth is that dog’s age at a rate of 7 human years for each year of their life, but this isn’t 100% accurate because of the many different variables that come into play. This formula may work as a rough estimate but it is important to note that large dog breeds typically have a much shorter life expectancy compared to smaller dog breeds which makes it difficult to use one formula to fit all dogs.

It is important to note that age is not considered a “disease”. While it is true that senior pets are more likely to develop age-related health issues, good care and a healthy lifestyle can help your pet live a happy, healthy, and even active life late into their senior years.

Changes To Expect As Your Pet Transitions In Their Senior Years

Similar to humans, dogs will undergo both behavioral and physical changes as they age. These changes can range from a decrease in activity levels to an increase in anxiety to hearing and vision loss. Each pet is an individual and will therefore change and react differently to the aging process. The most important thing as a pet parent is to provide your senior pet with a safe, happy, and healthy lifestyle and home.

Some of the most common health issues or conditions that aging pets may experience are:

  • Joint pain or arthritis
  • Worsening hearing or eyesight
  • Obesity from a decline in exercise
  • Dental disease or oral health issues
  • Slowing mental cognition or cognitive dysfunction
  • Cancer
  • Kidney disease

Some of the most common behavioral changes that aging pets may experience:

  • A decline in activity or exercise levels
  • Changes or an increase in sleep schedule
  • Increased anxiety
  • Less interest in playing
  • Easily disturbed or stressed by loud sounds or sudden movements
  • Changes in eating schedule
  • Sudden aggression usually secondary to PAIN

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How To Care For Your Senior Pet

Making specific lifestyle changes for your senior pet can help to keep them healthy and active as they age. Your veterinarian will be a great resource as your pet transitions into the senior years of their life. Your veterinarian may recommend more frequent examinations and bloodwork in order to identify and treat potential issues sooner.

As your pet ages, it is important to keep them as active as possible. Daily exercise will help to keep them physically healthy as they age. Exercise, such as going for walks, will also keep them mentally stimulated. Make sure you give them plenty of time to rest and recover if they overdo it.

Common Health Conditions For Senior Pets

One of the most common health conditions faced by senior pets is arthritis. It is important to realize that any change in gait or limping likely means your pet is in pain. Dogs do not typically display pain as we would expect so speak with your veterinarian about a daily prescription anti-inflammatory, or alternative treatments such as laser therapy, acupuncture and at-home strengthening exercises. It is likely your vet will refer you to a veterinarian who specializes in physical rehabilitation. Remember human anti-inflammatories are toxic to dogs. It is important to note that if your dog suddenly starts snapping at you when you go to pet them, they may be in pain. Sudden aggression is a common sign of pain. Additionally, if you suspect your pet has arthritis, you can help them at home by installing ramps and/or stairs, and limiting jumping as this can aggravate underlying issues.

What you feed your dog as they age is one of the most important choices you can make for them as nutrition is the cornerstone of health. Senior pets have different nutritional requirements than adult dogs, so be sure to speak with your veterinarian about your dog’s diet. At Wild Earth, we add in choline to support brain health which is especially important for aging dogs. We also guarantee the amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important in keeping their joints healthy.

You may choose to use Wild Earth Dog Supplements to provide your senior dog with the additional nutrients they need. Below are the different dog supplements that Wild Earth offers:

Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva, VMD, cVMA

Dr. Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva is the Professional Services Veterinarian here at Wild Earth. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Brown University, and attended veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Since graduation, she has worked in general practice, on telehealth platforms, and in animal rehabilitation. She has worked tirelessly to gain expertise in the field of canine nutrition through numerous certifications and coursework, and plans to pursue her Masters in Animal Nutrition.

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