Planning for Family Life with an Older Dog

Any new addition to the family is a joyous occasion. While it may not be as stressful as bringing a new baby home, the addition of a new pet can create logistical hurdles that every member of the family must embrace. While these changes may seem simple enough or easy to adjust to, it’s important to remember that there’ll be concerns throughout the life of any new pet entering the home.

Older pets, in particular, have a variety of concerns that must be addressed and planned for in advance. Dogs can be difficult to care for properly as they age, which makes planning for the inevitable all that more important.

Whether your family is adopting an older dog or you’re simply wanting to be ready for when your puppy ages, let’s look at how you can plan for family life with an older dog in the home.

Hearing, Smell and Vision Loss Can Be Difficult

Just like in humans, sensory organs and issues can become problematic as dogs get older. Older dogs often struggle with the decline in their senses of smell, sight and hearing after just a few years – but the problem may not be obvious initially.

A sudden loss in appetite may be a key indicator that your dog is no longer able to smell their food; dogs rely heavily on smell to determine whether something is edible or not. For this reason, a loss of smell can create a reduced appetite. Other health problems can be the cause of appetite loss, however, so it’s important to get these checked as soon as possible.

Your older dog may not hear as well as he or she once did. For some, this may be a subtle blessing (if your dog loves to bark at passers-by, not hearing them can reduce this behaviour). However, you may need to be more vocal with your canine friend as he or she ages, to garner their attention.

Lastly, vision loss can be a very difficult experience for both older dogs and their owners. Click here to learn more about caring for blind dogs and those with vision problems.

Diabetes and Pancreas Problems Are Common

Older dogs struggle with a variety of illnesses and diseases that can impact every segment of their body, but issues affecting the pancreas are common. Diabetes and pancreatitis in dogs are two notable examples, which can manifest in initially subtle but very important ways.

Dogs that begin to lose their appetites in conjunction with symptoms of dehydration (constant panting and/or excessive drinking) may have pancreatic problems. Lethargy and breathing difficulties are two other key symptoms that may indicate pancreatitis in dogs, as well as persistent diarrhoea and vomiting, as this guide from explains.

One of the biggest contributors to diabetes and pancreatitis in dogs is a processed food diet. To minimise the chances of this problem, switching to a high-quality raw food diet is essential. Conscientious raw food companies ensure that owners are feeding their dogs the kind of food that maximises health and well-being. Being an ethical and natural brand, Bella & Duke’s raw food diet can ease the pressure put on an older dog’s pancreas that can be caused by grain-heavy diets.

Energy Levels for Older Dogs Can Suffer

As dogs age, their ability and interest in being energetic tends to decline. This is simply a natural part of life – even in perfectly healthy dogs, they may begin to run around less, sleep more, and generally relax in old age.

This change in habit can be confusing for owners who pay close attention to their dog’s behaviours. As our pooches grow older, regular vet check-ups are essential to rule out any other underlying problems. However, homes with younger children in them may need to explain to the kids that their older canine friend isn’t able to play, run or jump as much as he/she once did.

Joint Pain and Arthritis Become Real

Older dogs may suffer from a variety of joint issues, including osteoporosis, arthritis and other mobility issues. Various breeds of dogs naturally suffer from joint problems (bigger dogs, in particular, have a plethora of potential joint problems in old age).

Ensuring that your home is accessible for older pups is a natural part of planning for family life with a dog. This brief guide for dogs with mobility issues at home is very helpful. Your canine friend may find it more difficult – if not impossible – to climb stairs or even move freely from place to place without issue. As such, situating food, drink, and sleeping areas within easy access is a vital consideration for many senior dogs.

Just like you’d expect family members to care for you in old age, ageing dogs need consideration as well. Joint pain, pancreatic issues, general lethargy and loss of senses are all common problems that can impact a dog’s quality of life. By knowing about these issues and consulting with your vet to ensure optimal conditions, your older dog can enjoy years of life with the rest of your family!

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