The aging process varies in dogs depending on their weight, breed, and lifestyle. In most cases, dogs between 8 and 10 years old are considered entering their senior years. Well socialized senior dogs are wonderful companions. Adopting a senior dog is a wonderful idea if you don’t have the energy or patience for a puppy or young dog. As dogs age, they become wise to the world and it's chaos.
Explain to kids that an old dog is like an old person. Do not bother them, tease them, crawl on them, or force hugs and kisses on them. Lots of dog bites could be prevented if we are cautious and aware of the body language. Most senior dogs prefer to be left alone to rest. If your dog still enjoys retrieving a ball or playing tug, that is great! But, let your dog decide when, what, and how long to play.
Monitor your dog’s health with annual check-ups. Your vet will do a yearly blood panel on your senior dog and develop a health plan that may add months if not years to your dog’s life. Medicines, supplements, and food available in special formulas will help maintain skin, coat and joint health, kidney and liver function, and even combat dementia.
End of Life- There is no easy time to say goodbye to our senior dog. When you are faced with making difficult end of life decisions, you do not have to go it alone. Get opinions for your vet, but also from friends and family that have known you and your dog. Consider the lifestyle your dog has always lived. Pain tolerance varies, but almost all dogs will experience discomfort at the end of life. Have medications available to ease pain. Quality of life may be based on mobility, enjoyment of play, appetite, or simple engagement with the people that the dog loves the most. You are the only one that can decide when it is best to allow your dog a peaceful transition. No doubt, they deserve that after the years of companionship they have provided us.