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Senior/ Elderly Dog Care Tips

by Lana Paws on September 24, 2022

how to take care of your senior/ elderly dog

If any pet owner had one wish, it would be to have their pets by their side forever. Like us, dogs age (although a bit faster than we’d like them to) and proper care can ensure the healthiest and longest life possible for your furry friend. Senior dogs need special care and here is everything you need to know about providing for them!

how old is my old in human years?

Signs of aging in dogs

First, how do you know your dog is aging?

The aging profile of dogs is different for some breeds, for example, small dogs usually live up to 13- 15 years while larger dogs can live up to 10-13 years. In general, smaller dogs live longer than medium and large sized dogs though diet, nutrition and health plays a huge role in determining a dog's life expectancy.  Some breeds start showing signs of aging earlier as compared to others, for instance, bulldogs, great Danes, and bullmastiffs show signs of aging around 7-8 years whereas huskies, indies, and beagles start aging around 13-14 years.

Genetics, environment, and gut health also matter in the aging process. Once your dog starts showing signs of aging, they can be considered a senior dog regardless of their true age.

In the later stages of their lives, some dogs could develop serious health conditions like arthritis and joint issues, dementia, heart issues, cancer, and kidney problems, so always be on the lookout for symptoms and make regular vet appointments.

signs of aging in dogs

There are a few physical and mental signs of aging common to almost all breeds:

  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Change in the quality of their coat and skin (also greying of coat around the snout and the face)
  • Change in breath
  • Slower walks/ Lagging behind during walks
  • Not willing to take the stairs
  • Loss of vision
  • Fatigue & lethargy
  • Spending more time on their own
  • Urinary problems and soiling
  • Anxiety, confusion, and disorientation

Pedigree dogs have parent dogs from the same breed, this narrower gene pool contributes to a higher risk of genetic problems and may lead to health risks.

  • Brachycephalic breeds such as, French Bulldog, Boxer, Pug, and Shih Tzu, may experience difficulty breathing
  • Some pedigree breeds might have difficulty giving birth without a surgical intervention like English Bulldogs, Pugs, etc.
  • Some larger breeds may develop joint issues such as, arthritis, and may have mobility and stability issues in their senior years, like German Shepherd, St Bernard, Rottweiler, and Labrador Retriever.
  • Some breeds may experience serious eye problems which may cause pain and discomfort, potential blindness. The breeds at higher risk include, Pug, Shih Tzu, Pomeranian, and Cocker Spaniel
  • Selective breeding also results in skin issues like excessive skin folds and inherited allergies. Breeds most likely to inherit this are English Bulldog, Pug, and French Bulldog

Tips to take care of your elderly dog

Here are some care tips you can implement for making your senior dog’s life as comfortable as possible-

Diet and nutrition

Most dog food companies do not differentiate their meals as per life stages. For older dogs, it is important to give an easily digestible diet as metabolism slows down and overfeeding may lead to obesity and other health issues. Try switching to low fat, low sodium, and roughage-filled diets. High protein diets are encouraged and increased water intake. Make sure all of their meals are home cooked or freshly prepared, and wholesome. Consult your vet or a professional canine nutritionist to determine which supplements will benefit your pet the most, given their specific health conditions and activity levels

Joint problems

Like us, even dogs experience arthritis among other joint issues, with the onset of old age. They should be introduced to regular exercise rather than random bursts of strenuous activity since that may lead to soreness. The right course of treatment will vary with each breed but mainly, conditions like hip or elbow dysplasia may need surgical intervention to rectify. Some degenerative joint conditions can be treated by a mix of nutrition, lifestyle changes and exercise prescribed by a canine expert

Also read - Arthritis in Dogs: Early Signs, Diagnosis and Treatment

Mental health & enrichment

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) affects around 50% of dogs over the age of 11 years. At around 15 years of age, more than 68% of dogs begin to experience cognitive problems associated with CCD. This may show up as,

  1. Increased barking or vocalization
  2. Movement or posture problems,
  3. Change in gait
  4. Disorientation
  5. Change in activity levels
  6. Reduced interaction with humans & other dogs
  7. Sleep cycles

Consult your vet for a proper course of therapy and treatment if you begin to notice any such symptoms. If your dog experiences anxiety with old age, it is safe to use certain natural remedies like CBD oil, melatonin, and lavender after proper vet consultation. To keep your pet mentally engaged, provide them with chew toys, puzzles, new tricks, and importantly, some hugs and cuddles. You can engage in massages or simple companionship and quality time if your senior pet experiences fear, confusion or disorientation.

Also read - All You Need to Know: Bowen Therapy For Dogs

Products For Senior Dogs

how to take care of your senior dog

Senior or elderly dogs may require an extra hand of help getting around or feeling comfortable, so investing in some products can be a win-win!

  1. You can buy portable stairs or a ramp for dogs experiencing joint problems so they do not have to exert themselves
  2. Older dogs may develop incontinence so pee pads, potty pads, and dog diapers are helpful to avoid messy situations
  3. A comfort or chew toy may help keep them company and soothe gum problems in old dogs, and wink wink, you can always stuff silicone or rubber chewies with extra treats!
  4. Walking support for dogs such as, a dog sling, leg braces, full body dog harness, may help tremendously with mobility issues and helps ease the pressure on their spines, especially for larger breeds
  5. An orthopaedic dog bed or a heated blanket during winters helps with aches and pains from daily movement and eases their sleep routine


Your vet will determine the frequency and need for any vaccinations but broadly, senior dogs are vaccinated once in 2-3 years but for diseases like kennel cough, leptospirosis, or Lyme disease, vaccines may be given more frequently. Have regular blood and urine tests for your dog as they may help in the early detection of diseases like diabetes, and kidney and thyroid diseases.


To help elderly dogs keep their skin, coat, eyes, ears, and nails clean, it’s important to schedule regular grooming appointments. Make sure to be gentle with them, make the baths or grooming process quick, and always take into consideration any health issues that they might have. When using a professional grooming service, never leave them alone with a dog groomer as they may not be aware of your senior dog’s special needs

Observing new behaviours

Dogs can experience symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s as seen in humans. This may show up as forgetfulness, confusion, and unfamiliarity with known people or places. Be kind and always prioritize vet appointments at early stages of such symptoms. All senses can start deteriorating so it is important to keep senior dogs under observation in their daily activities.

Tips to take care of your elderly dog

Weight management

Regularly check for fluctuations in your dog’s weight and consult a professional canine nutritionist to come up with a customized diet to manage them. This symptom of fluctuation should not be taken lightly as it may indicate early signs of sickness.

If you have a young or a middle-aged dog, you can still start caring for the later stages of their lives today!

Here are some tips you can start implementing now:

Keep your dog’s health & weight in check

Many pet parents either opt for commercially available dog foods or give their dog whatever is cooked at home. Unfortunately, this may lead to severe nutrient deficiencies over time resulting in health issues as well as, excessive weight gain. It’s crucial to know what type of food is best for your dog considering their breed, age and activity levels.

It’s highly recommended to consult a certified canine nutritionist who would guide you to make better food decisions for your dog’s improved quality of life today and the years to come. It’s one of the best investments you can make not just for your dog but also for yourself.

Also read,

Summer diet tips for dogs

Winter diet tips for dogs

How much should I feed my dog

Keep your dog physically and mentally active

Like humans, staying active is essential for dogs too. Some dogs like accompanying their parents to hikes while some enjoy a leisurely stroll in the park. Dogs must be walked outdoors for at least 30-45 minutes daily, unless they are unwell or have mobility issues. Allowing your dog to sniff at their own pace and explore slowly is also important for their wholesome walking experience.

Physical health can also be a way to mentally stimulate your dog. You can do this by placing their treats in corners of the house, buy doggy feeder mats, treat toys and puzzles among others.

Most people focus on the physical health of their dog and often forget one important component of their health – their mental well-being. Keeping your dog mentally stimulated from a very young age will help them stabilize their senses for the future. This may look like learning new tricks, implementing new routines, and visual, sensory or audio stimulation. You may also take them to parks, parking lots, swimming pools, dog water parks, or even your backyard to explore new areas and enjoy new activities.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your dog's time as they enjoy creativity just like humans.

From us here at Lana Paws, we wish your senior dog a healthy and enriching life full of fun and beautiful memories with you.

1 comment
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