Senior dogs need special care, and caring for a large breed senior often poses unique challenges. A dog's life expectancy depends on many things including genetics, lifestyle, breed, nutrition, and environment. On average, large dogs live to be between nine and twelve years of age. There are large breeds that have average life expectancies of seven years and those that are fourteen years. The one thing that's for sure is, senior dogs need love and care.
Just like people, dogs develop arthritis and joint pain. Large dogs, especially those that have carried around extra pounds, tend to be prone to joint problems. Some signs that your dog may be experiencing arthritis or general discomfort in their joints include:
- Difficulty standing up from a lying position
- Difficulty jumping up on furniture
- Difficulty on stairs, especially going down
- Difficulty getting in your car
- Limping or favoring a leg
There are supplements that can be given to help ease joint discomfort. These include specially formulated supplements containing glucosamine and sometimes chondroitin. Fish oil with Omega 3 fatty acids is another commonly used supplement. Please check with your vet before giving your senior dog any supplements.
You may need to make some changes in your routine. Also, you might want to construct or purchase things to help make life easier on your dog. Dogs over fifty pounds can't be lifted up onto a bed or carried up stairs as easily as smaller dogs. This may require you to get creative with ramps. If you used to spend a good amount of time upstairs with your dog, you might want to rearrange things so that you are downstairs keeping them company.
Your senior dog may need a special diet. Senior diets are available for purchase in stores. Veterinarians usually carry prescription foods for dogs with special needs. Do not over feed your senior dog. Obesity can become an issue for older dogs that are less active than they were in their younger years.
If your dog is having trouble eating dry food, consider soaking it prior to feeding time. Many older dogs enjoy canned food. Seniors that have become picky eaters may also prefer canned foods over dry.
Your senior dog may have accidents in the house. Lack of bladder control is not uncommon in elderly dogs and seems to affect large breeds more often than small breeds.
While incontinence may be a normal condition in the aging process, you don't want to rule out a treatable medical condition. Take your dog to the vet if it is experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Urinating in the house
- Frequent urination
- Signs of leaking such as wet fur or wet spots on their bedding
If your dog is experiencing incontinence due to old age, you may want to purchase puppy pads to use around the house. There are also dog diapers on the market.
Your senior dog might not be capable of telling you that they need to go out like they used to. Take your dog out to go to the bathroom more often than before. This may help avoid accidents in your house.
It's always important to keep up with your dog's wellness check-ups and vaccinations. These visits don't end, and may be more important when the dog is aged. Your dog relies on you for its well-being and comfort. For more information, contact a place like Pet Medical Center – Full Service Veterinary Care.