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Ask The Vet: All about senior dogs

Ask The Vet: All about senior dogs

Welcome back to the second part of our ‘Ask The Vet’ series. You asked, and we answered. This week, Dr Jayne Laycock BVetMed MRCVS, Veterinary Technical Manager at Lintbells – Home of YuMOVE is covering all your senior dog health questions. Read on for her expert answers…

“My dog is already on YuMOVE. Is there anything else I can do to help their stiff joints?”

  1. Keep your dog at an ideal weight for their individual size and breed

The heavier your dog, the more strain they’re putting on their joints. Your local vet will be able to weigh your dog and assess their body shape to ensure they’re a healthy weight. They can also advise and offer support if they feel it would be helpful for your dog to lose a few pounds.  

  1. Moderate their exercise levels

Too little or too much exercise can worsen stiffness in your dog’s joints. That’s why it’s important to take your dog on regular and consistent walks throughout the week in line with their ability. Don’t just opt for longer and more intense walks at the weekend. This sudden increase can exacerbate joint stiffness. Shorter, more frequent walks are usually more appropriate. If your pup does seem stiffer after a walk, then you know it’s probably been a bit too much for them and you may need to reduce the length next time.  

  1. Make some home adaptations

Environmental changes to your home can also make the world of difference. For example, putting non-slip rugs on slippery floors or supplying ramps if your senior dog regularly goes in and out of cars or up and down steps. Find out more about adapting your home for a senior dog now.

  1. Regularly get them seen by your vet

Your local vet can assess your dog’s joints and can advise whether further interventions may be necessary to help support your senior dog when it comes to stiffness.

“What are the signs of joint stiffness in senior dogs?”

As you well know, dogs can’t just tell us when they’re struggling with joint stiffness. The worst part? Dogs are very obedient and loyal. If you ask them to walk with you every day, or ask them to bound up the stairs and jump on your bed, they will. Even if they’re feeling particularly stiff – simply because they love spending time with you. This is why you need to be in-the-know when it comes to the signs of stiffness:

  • A change in behaviour – like being calmer or quieter than usual
  • A lack of enthusiasm when it comes to walkies, or slowly lagging behind
  • Difficulty standing up after resting
  • Reluctance to go up and down stairs, or jumping in and out of cars
  • Lameness
  • Excessive licking at sore joints

These are just some of the warning signs of joint stiffness. We always recommend taking your dog to see your vets if you’ve got any concerns or worries.

“My dog has slowed down recently. Is this usual for a senior dog and when should I do something about it?”

Most people expect their senior dog to slow down. After all, just like us, dogs just aren’t as lively in their older years. However, slowing down isn’t always due to ‘old age’. And it can sometimes be dangerous to assume so. If your dog starts to slow down, it could be the first sign of many different underlying problems.

For instance, your dog may be affected by stiff joints – this means they can’t do as much as they want to. There may also be a number of other underlying problems which are more likely to be seen in older dogs and may cause your dog to slow down.

For these reasons, we always recommend regular check-ups for senior pets. Vets can perform full examinations, blood checks and monitor their general health. This way, if your dog needs any additional support, it can be picked up earlier rather than later.

“Can you give me some advice on dementia in dogs?”

Also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, dementia in dogs is a disorder related to the ageing of a dog’s brain. This leads to a change in behaviour such as sleep disturbances, inappropriate vocalisation (whining and howling), pacing, disorientation and general anxiety.

This new behaviour can be challenging for owners to cope with. And, unfortunately, this isn’t a curable condition. However, there are some things you can do at home to help. Adjustments to their routine – like consistent exercise, bedtime and eating – can help to keep your pup calm. You’ll also want to create a calm home environment. This means avoiding moving furniture around, as this can cause confusion.

There are also enrichment toys available which can help to stimulate your dog’s brain. We also recommend getting your dog checked by your vet as they may be able to recommend medication to help. Find out more about dementia in dogs in our handy guide.

“My older dog has developed bad skin. Is this normal and what can I do to help them?”

Your dog’s skin will age, just like yours will. But unlike wrinkles, you’ll probably notice a thinner coat, grey hairs – particularly around the muzzle – and longer and more brittle nails. The outer layer of skin can also become thickened (also known as hyperkeratosis). This is often noticeable on an older dog’s pads and nasal area. If these areas appear very dry and cracked, then it may be necessary to apply softeners/emollient ointments to keep them moisturised. Your vet can advise which is the most appropriate for your dog.

A change in the production of sebum – a waxy oily substance in your dog’s skin – can also cause your dog’s coat and skin to be dry and lacklustre. Products or supplements that are packed with fatty acids and nutrients can really help. For instance, our YuMOVE Skin and Coat Care range. All our products are enriched with Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils, as well as a whole heap of other necessary nutrients. The best part? They cater to individual issues, such as itchiness, moulting fur or boosting skin and nail strength.

Worried your dog’s skin is excessively itchy? Do they continually have skin problems? Get them seen by your vet so they can get to the root of the problem. They’ll also be able to check for any hormonal problems in your senior dog.

Want to do more to help your senior dog? Discover the best senior dog toys or find out what bed to buy for your ageing canine. In the meantime, stay up to date with our Facebook and Instagram pages.