I am super excited to introduce you to a guest blogger, Mark, who loves dogs (and all pets) just as much as we all do! He has taken time out of his busy schedule to write about how to keep your dog healthy through middle/senior age.
Want more information regarding dogs? Check out his site: ourdogsworld101.com or his Facebook page. It is definitely worth the read!
Kelly Update 2023: This is still an important article to consider! Our pets won’t age in reverse like in the move, “Benjamin Button”. I have left everything Mark has said, but just added a little bit more information at the end of each section.
Thanks again Mark for your article!
How to Keep Your Dog Healthy Through Middle/Senior Age
Dogs experience age-related problems and challenges as they get older. Usually, a dog is considered senior when it reaches seven years of age. Thinking about such changes begs the question, how to keep your dog healthy through middle/ senior age.
Consider taking these amazing steps to improve their health. By doing your part to keep your senior dog healthy, you will allow them to give you many years of companionship. Follow these tips and your middle-aged/ senior dog’s health will be assured.
Healthy Food and Nutrition to Keep Your Dog Healthy
Diet is a very important point that contributes to the overall health of your fur buddy. For senior dogs, the nutritional requirements usually change and evolve. All middle age/ senior dogs have specific nutritional needs based on breed, age, weather, metabolism, and activity level.
The middle-aged/ senior dogs are prone to many health issues including arthritis, weight gain, cognitive issues, and appetite loss. Their diet greatly affects the quality of their life. These health problems can be affected or improved by the daily diet you feed.
Healthy seniors need more protein to maintain muscle mass. Many middle/ senior dogs need more protein, fibre, or other nutrients to ensure their bodies are well taken care of. You should give middle age/ senior dogs a diet that is tailored to meet their needs. You can consult your vet to select the best diet for your middle-aged/ senior dog’s specific needs.
Don’t forget that a quality diet is key. According to the AKC, it is important to consider protein (like Mark said), calories, sodium, phosphorous.
Diets low in sodium and phosphorous can help reduce heart and kidney disease. Vets may prescribe a prescription diet if there is a concern.
Our older dog’s metabolism isn’t going to be the same as when they were young, so be sure you are feeding your baby the correct amount of food…and don’t buy the sad eyes and the whining stating they are starving!
Regular Vet Visits to Keep Your Dog Healthy
You should take your middle-aged/ senior dogs for regular check-ups at the vet’s office. Regular vet visits give your vet the chance to evaluate the overall health of your senior dog.
You will also get the chance to discuss any unusual behavior your senior dog is displaying. Your vet will identify irregularities in case your fur buddy has any issues.
The vet will assess the general health of your middle-aged/ senior dog. These vet examinations can detect problems in older dogs before they become life-threatening. Regular vet visits improve the chances of a longer and healthier life for your dog.
I agree wholeheartedly to this section. This is similar to why we, as humans, have annual check-ups. We want to take care of our aging bodies (especially after 40!) and stay proactive when it comes to healthcare.
The longer you wait to treat an illness, the worse it gets, and unfortunately, the more money you pay. Same with our furbabies.
Introduce Dietary Supplements When Appropriate
If your senior dog is not getting a complete and balanced diet, it may develop dietary issues. You can introduce supplements into your dog’s diet.
*Dietary supplements will not take the place of a healthy diet but will be an additional support to a healthy life. *
You can give joint supplements to help keep your dog’s joints from hurting. Also, omega-3 fatty acids help with brain, skin and joint health.
Be cautious about giving human supplements to pets. Your senior dogs need dietary supplements if they’re suffering from arthritis, hip dysplasia, neurological problems, or poor coat conditions. Your vet can also assess whether your middle-aged/ senior dog needs a supplement or not.
Supplements can definitely help improve our dog’s quality of life as they age. One caution I would give is that before you purchase any supplements, discuss with your vet to see if the supplements may interfere with any medication they are already taking or will prohibit absorption of minerals/vitamins from their food.
Another thought is to discuss CBD for dogs. I have heard from many pet owners that their pets have benefited from CBD. Be very aware of where the CBD is sourced and be sure it is organic. (Again, another topic to discuss with your vet!)
A Comfy Place to Live
Arthritis and hip and elbow dysplasia are common issue for older dogs. These dogs deserve a comfy place to relax and sleep.
A quality orthopedic dog bed can ease their arthritic joints while helping them stay cozy and comfortable. These beds are designed to provide extra support to your dog’s joints and bones.
You must provide a warm, comfy, and quiet place for relaxing and sleeping. Choose a low-traffic area in your house for your senior dog to relax and sleep. During winters, provide them cozy blankets to keep them warm. Also, keep their space clean and free of germs.
Kelly’s Add: If you have dogs like mine, who don’t like dog beds…because they prefer to sleep on your bed or the couch, there are still products that can help keep your dog comfortable.
We utilized a set of steps that Nuka could climb to reach our bed. There are also orthopedic blankets that can be used if your dog prefers the couch or your king size bed!
Regular grooming and careful weekly examinations are essential for your aging dog’s overall well being. Regular grooming can help you to spot bumps, lumps, wounds, and potential health problems on your senior dog’s skin.
Grooming also helps to remove any loose fur due to shedding, dirt, debris, or ticks and fleas. You should arm yourself with the right grooming tools for your senior dog. Make grooming a positive experience for your senior dog, filled with praises and rewards.
Be sure you know how often your pet should be groomed. For example, my Malamutes should only be groomed about once a quarter, while other breeds need to be bathed weekly.
A professional groomer also may be better equipped to groom your dog. When looking for a groomer, look for one that makes grooming a positive experience and also understands the needs of a senior pet. It may be a little more expensive; however, it is worth the expense…and don’t forget to tip!
Regular Exercise and Mental Stimulation
Senior dogs should be given regular exercise and mental stimulation to avoid health issues. Regular physical activities will strengthen your aging dog’s muscles, enhance circulation and improve their heart and brain function.
Always choose a physical activity that is appropriate for your dog’s age and stamina.
Mental stimulation also plays a big role in keeping your dog healthy. Try to provide ample opportunities for mental challenges to keep your dog young at heart and prevent boredom.
Each senior is different. Nuka, my female, had a good amount of short energy spurts, but Beckham, my male, is the type to go slow, but for a long distance. Work at your dog’s speed and watch for any changes in their energy level.
If your dog loves toys or stimulation activities, you can check out Amazon or Chewy for some great options, too.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining your senior dog’s weight is one of the easiest ways to increase his life expectancy. Healthy weight is a major factor that contributes to your dog’s overall well-being.
Obesity in senior dogs increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, difficulty breathing, skin problems, and other conditions. It can shorten your dog’s life expectancy and decrease their quality of life.
Sudden weight loss in a senior dog is also a source for concern. Hyperthyroidism, diabetes and kidney disease are common causes of weight loss in senior dogs.
This goes hand in hand with the quality of food you feed your dog. Foods that have more additives or more empty calories are going to be less filling. Discuss with your vet the best food to fee your senior for healthy weight maintenance.
What are Physical Signs of Aging in Dogs?
Dogs show a variety of signs of aging besides a graying muzzle. Some hallmarks of aging in dogs include:
- Slowing down or difficulty getting around
- Increased barking
- Cloudy eyes or difficulty seeing
- Awful breath due to gum disease or tooth decay
- Weight fluctuation
It’s important to note that physical signs of aging might look different in dog breeds.
Quick note: Contrary to the popular belief, dogs do not age at a rate of 7 human years for each dog year.
What problems are more common in senior dogs?
It’s easy to spot the outward signs of aging in dogs. Here are a few common health problems in senior dogs:
- Hearing loss causing varying degrees of deafness
- Vision loss due to tissue degeneration in the eyes
- Joint problems
- Dementia/Cognitive Dysfunction: When dogs lose cognitive function as they age
- Cancer: It accounts for almost half of the deaths of dogs over 10 years of age
- Heart disease
- Kidney problems
- Gastrointestinal issues
Aging should not be painful for your furry companion. For your senior dog’s health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian. They can make the best recommendations for your dog.
Kelly’s Add: Another aspect to consider is when it is time to let your pet run over the rainbow bridge. If their quality of life has decreased significantly due to aging (cancer, heart disease, they can’t get up anymore or are constantly having trouble breathing), it may be time to let them go.
The only thing they ask of you is to be there when it is time. You are their family and want you to be the last person they see before they run through the fields on the other side.
Just like us, age is not a disease for dogs. Although senior dogs may develop age-related problems, good care allows them to live healthy lives in their senior years.
Remember, when you bring home a furry companion, you are committing to a long-term relationship. As a loving dog parent, these tips will help your middle-aged/ senior dog to stay healthy.
You can’t make your senior dog live forever, but you can help your furry pal live the healthiest life possible. A healthy senior dog can save you from a lot of stress and vet visits. All you need is to make some effort to support a healthy life for your senior dog.
Kelly’s Add: Thank you so much for reading this article. I hope it helps to keep your pet’s in good health…longer!
Let me know if you have tried anything else to help keep your middle/senior dog’s healthy.
26 thoughts on “Keep Your Dog Healthy Through Middle/ Senior Age”
Hi there, I have been fortunate enough to have several dogs that lived to a very ripe old age. I have also “inherited” a few dogs in their old age when their owners relocated and felt the dog was too old to accompany them. The most common ailment that I have noticed in big dogs, are the hips that give in, and joint stiffness. Having a soft, but bed, and a floor covering that they do not slip when they get up, has helped our dogs. Thanks for sharing these signs.
My dogs have also suffered from hip dysplasia, knee problems, and joint stiffness. Your recommendations are a great help! I will be searching for some non-slip padding/floor covering in the coming weeks. Do you have any particular brand you use?
Hi Kelly. Thank you for great post. I love my dog but unfortunately he is getting older and recently I realized that he need more attention then ever. Mark article is extremely helpful, of course I knew that I need to visit vet more often but never thought to change his diet or to introduce supplements. Looking forward to use these advices in practice and I hope it will make my dog live long years.
Thanks! It is interesting how our dogs needs change as they age, but we can view it like how our needs change as well. Supplements are great options to try, but I would definitely consult a vet before you start any.
Hi there, I am also a dog lover myself but I didn’t know we have to understand so much stuff just to raise a dog which kinda surprising to me! Thanks to your blog, I know what to look for if I plan to raise up a dog (hopefully in the future) Anyways, I’m still not sure what kind of exercise should I give my dog to improve its stimulation and mental? Any suggestion would be very helpful.
It is always good to research before you adopt a pet. Not all pets are alike! In regards to exercise, it will depend on your dog. My 7 year old malamute would still be able to handle running; however, my 10 year malamute has arthritis and should stick to low impact walking. Mental stimulation is always a great thing to work on. You can get puzzle like toys that you can stick treats in or you can work different types of training routines. Thanks for your comment!
Thanks for this information, my dog just turned 5 years old, so would he be considered “middle-aged”? We have changed his diet to a more healthy brand and he appears to be feeling much better. He was having some stomach issues, and he started having seizures. Poor thing. Since changing his diet he has not had any issues.
I am so glad to hear he is not having issues after the change in diet. I had to do that as well for both my Malamutes…and of course they don’t have the same foods now. My male eats a bit of dry food with a can of mackeral and my female has to eat specialized food for her joints.
5 years old would be considered approximately middle-aged, but don’t worry! He should still have a lot of life left in him especially if you keep his health in mind. (My last Mal lived to almost 17 and larger breeds usually decline around 12). It sounds like you have a good idea on what to look for, so you are in a good spot!
Thanks for the comment!
This post reads just like caring for the elderly in human beings. Maybe that is why dogs acquired the title of man’s best friend. My aunt has a dog that she’s had for what I believe to be ten-plus years. The last time I was at her place, I noticed some of the signs you’ve mentioned here. He barked a lot, and his physical activity was noticeably slower. I believe now is the time to take better care of him.
Hi Steve, yes, the senior years may require a bit more care; however, it is important to ensure your pet is in good health over his entire life. Some dogs have specific issues that come up during puppyhood (like allergies, skin conditions, etc). I hope your aunt is able to see the signs in her dog and is able to help. If not, it is definitely an opportunity for you to share the information you learned. 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing.
During the pandemic, I got a puppy because i was lonely and depressed and he changed my life!
I never would thought i would love my dog this much and i’ll do anything to keep him strong and healthy and live a long life!
Very informative site. I’m always curious to see what other dog owners and handlers have to say. I’m grateful for this post because i’m learning new things.
Thank you so much!
Absolutely! I would encourage you to learn everything you can about your dog and how you can take care of him/her. It will only build your bond! Thank you so much for the comment!
Alright, I’m going to bookmark this article! My dog just turned 6 years old and even though it’s a small breed, it’s starting to show his age a little bit. Well, it’s nothing serious just yet, but I noticed that he has less energy than he used to have, sleeping/relaxing more often, and so on. But now, I’ve got a question. You say that you’ve got to challenge your dog mentally as well. I’ve never trained my dog as it was abandoned and he was already 4 years old. Are there any other ways to mentally challenge my dog?
Oh my! Thank you so much for your comments. Yes, there are multiple things you can do. There are puzzle toys for dogs where you stick some small treats in, and they have to figure out how to get them out…but you can also utilize obedience/agility training. What do you think?
Diet and nutrition definitely goes a long way when it comes to keeping your dog healthy, just like us. Supplements can also certainly go a long way in aiding the ageing process, especially hose creaking and ageing bones.
I love the orthopedic doggy bed, but as it is quite pricey you need to be certain that your dog isn’t going to chew it up, as our seven year old pavement special has chewed up 4 beds in his lifetime already!
I am not sure what hose creaking or pavement special is, but I am pretty sure I get the idea of what you were trying to say. 🙂 Orthopedic beds are expensive! I know I haven’t purchased one because none of my dogs actually like sleeping on dog beds. They prefer the wood floor or my bed.
Thanks for the comments!
I want to thank you for the wonderful post. The fact that my dog is getting older makes me sad, but I’ve lately come to the conclusion that he need even more attention than he did when he was younger. The article written by Mark is extremely helpful. Although I was aware that I should visit the veterinarian more frequently, I had not considered altering his diet or providing him with supplements. I am excited to put these tips into effect, and I have high hopes that they will help my dog live a long and healthy life. This incredible essay will most certainly be shared by me.
Thank you so much! I am glad Mark’s post made such an impact and hope your dog lives a long and healthy life as well!
I had two malamutes that were 12 and a half years old. I just lost one . They were half brothers same dad different moms. They were two weeks apart. They were very bonded. Now my remaining baby Grady is grieving , he has so much anxiety it is so hard to comfort him. I have been giving him exercise and a lot of cuddles it is hard as we are grieving together. I miss my sweet Shamus terribly. I am really at a loss as to help him. At my age I can not get another dog it is so difficult
I am so sorry for your loss Gayle! It is extremely difficult to lose a fur baby especially when they are 1 of a bonded pair. Grady will grieve, but the grieving process will get a bit better over time. I don’t think it ever goes away (I think Beckham still grieves for Nuka on occasion).
It may be difficult to not get another dog; however, would you be able to volunteer at a shelter to help love on some dogs? Maybe even take Grady to doggy daycare to play with others? (if he is good with other dogs) That may help ease the heart ache a teensy bit?
Having had dogs all my life I appreciated your post very much! My wife and I lost our 18 year old Lab/German Shepherd a few years ago and the comments regarding diet were so very accurate. Sometimes when I see an older dog that is very overweight I want to shake the person the dog lives with! Thank you much>
I totally understand the feeling! There are so many issues that dogs deal with when they are overweight. Poor babies struggle just getting up and walking.
It sounds like your Lab/German Shepherd lived a long, healthy life! It is a struggle when they pass, but it is so rewarding having them in our lives to begin with.
My grandmas dog turned 7 years old a few months ago and this was something I was talking to her about and I decided to help her find a better food diet for the dog (she was basically eating grocery stores pet food which ain’t good) and ever since we made that change, her dog has lost some weight (she was obese), she has more energy and she’s not as hungry as she used to be back then. Implementing good and healthy nutrients to our fur babies diet is such an important step in helping our senior dogs live a much better life.
It’s amazing what a good diet can do! Just like humans, our dogs need proper nutrition to keep them at a healthy weight, as well as improve mobility, skin and fur, and overall well-being. Thank you so much for your comments!
This is really heartwarming. Seeing our pets live the life they should makes us dog owners the happiest, not mentioning the benefits that those fur balls bring. Makes me sad though, I witnessed my dogs’ leaving from this world, and while I am happy of the memories, it still pinches my heart every now and then, that all of those now are just memories and part of my timeline. But thank you for this article, Kelly and Mark, it really brings up the topic on know-how, responsible dog-ownership to the public. Kudos. – Maurice
Thanks so much Maurice! I appreciate your comments. It is so sad when we have to say goodbye to our pets, but if we can extend the quality of their lives, we should do the best we can!