Here are some helpful tips from our partners in pet
nutrition - Eukanuba on how to take care of your older
Why is my dog drinking so much water?
Excessive drinking, increased urination, unexplained weight gain
or loss, reduced vision and lethargy could all be signs of
diabetes. (Although please note other disorders also present with
similar symptoms - please check with your vet.) Equally, elevated
blood sugar levels can manifest without any visible symptoms. So,
as your dog matures make sure he has regular blood sugar tests.
Obese dogs, particularly females, are at risk, but diabetes can be
managed through diet and drugs. Preventative measures include
slowly increasing exercise and switching to a lower-fat formula
like Eukanuba Daily Care Overweight/Sterilized
Does an older dog need more vet visits?
Yes. A quality diet, exercise, regular worming and annual core
inoculations are the basics that will help your dog stay well, but
as he matures you should also add four- to six-monthly vet
screenings into his calendar.
The vet will check for heart problems, blood sugar levels, renal
function, hip dysplasia and the hormonal illness Cushing's disease
(to name but a few). A dog's immune system naturally weakens with
age but your vet can help spot issues before they develop.
Mature dogs need different food - why?
From seven (five for giant breeds) dogs slow down. A high
protein, lower-fat diet that's easy to digest but leaves him
feeling full is needed to control weight. A number of other
nutritional essentials can help support his well-being. Use
Eukanuba Mature & Senior as it includes: L-Carnitine to help
burn fat; omega 6 and 3 fatty acids to keep a greying coat shiny;
and natural sources of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate to
support joints. Quality protein from an animal source (such as
fish, lamb or chicken) is vital to maintain lean muscle mass.
Your dog is starting to look like he should be wearing slippers,
not chewing them. Here's how to keep him fit and active for years
Fit not fat
As your dog starts to run around less and his metabolic rate
slows you'll need to keep a sharp eye on his weight, as obesity is
only ever a few months of inactivity and extra treats away. (And
just as obesity can cause health problems for us, so it can lead to
a whole world of pain for your dog, including diabetes, heart and
respiratory problems and joint issues.)
To keep him trim, switch to nutrition that's been created with
mature and senior dogs in mind (it'll have less fat than you'd find
in formulas for younger adult dogs). Splitting his daily food
allowance into two portions in the morning and evening will help
keep his digestive system ticking over nicely.
As dogs age at different rates, decline in fitness is very
individual, but nevertheless there are some signs to look out for.
You will notice that with age heads and tails droop more quickly
and panting increases more rapidly - all of which indicates
tiredness. And although your dog may be getting older, he'll still
try to please, so be mindful not to throw the ball as far or for as
long as you used to.
If he likes swimming (which is great for his joints) remember to
take a towel, as older dogs may cool down faster. Also, consider
splitting his exercise into smaller, less strenuous, bursts
throughout the day.
Become your dog's dental hygienist
The way to a dog's heart may be through his stomach but the food
has to get past his teeth first. Gum disease - which is all too
common in older dogs - and mouth infections are never great and can
migrate to the vital organs to cause serious harm. So worth
preventing, in other words. (Ideally you have started dental
hygiene when your dog was a young adult.)
Chew toys and crunchy kibble help to remove plaque but as your
dog ages his desire to chew lessens. Vets can provide professional
care, but a brush every six months won't do the trick either. So
it's down to you, and the daily clean you can administer, to stop
plaque building up.
Using dog toothpaste (specially formulated and often beef or
chicken flavoured) and a soft brush, gently hold his jaws and slide
the brush under the lips and along the teeth, paying particular
attention to the back molars. Start slowly and build up over time.
If your dog suddenly stops chewing or eats more gingerly take him
to the vets - he may be suffering oral pain.
An anti-flea plan
His silver fox whiskers are, of course, a sure sign that he's
aging and there's a good chance that they're a tell-tale for dry
skin and coat. Given that a dog with dry skin is more sensitive to
flea bites, which in turn can become infected, keeping his coat in
good shape is time well spent.
Regular grooming sessions, high quality protein and fatty acids
in the diet are the cornerstones of a shiny coat (Omega's 6 and 3
being as good for dogs as they are for us, albeit for slightly
different reasons). Monthly anti-flea and tick preparations
(available from good pet stores or the vet) will also help.
Fleas don't live on your dog, they just feed on him, so if you
ever do spot them, it's time to put his bedding on a hot wash. Use
de-flea treatments throughout your house, car, and garden, and pop
a flea collar inside your vacuum.
As he changes, keep everything the same
As your dog ages he'll appreciate a bit more routine and
sameness around the house. Treat him to a memory-foam mat that
moulds to his body and put cosy cushions in his favourite snooze
spots around the house. Ensure his water bowls are in the same
place and that your furniture isn't moved around (especially if his
eye sight is failing). And if it looks as if his joints are
stiffing, help him in and out of the car (without letting next
door's cat see what you're doing, of course).