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Ways To Care For Your Senior Dog

The background of this graphic is an elderly couple sitting on a bench with their dog in a park with colorful trees. The words on top of this graphic read, "Ways To Care For Your Senior Dog."
Picture of Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal is the founder and lead veterinarian for Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic. Coufal graduated from State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in May of 2000.

Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic has been providing passionate, affordable veterinary care for the Colorado Springs community for years. As one of the best veterinary centers in Colorado Springs, we want to help you learn how to care for your pets during every stage of their lives. Whether you have a new kitten and you want to learn more about her check-up appointments, or you have a senior dog that suffers from arthritis, our team is here to help make sure you’re prepared to provide your pets the best care possible. 

As dogs become older, it can be difficult to know exactly what’s best for them and how to make sure they’re comfortable as they age. In an effort to help you care for your fur baby, our team of knowledgeable experts has compiled a list of different conditions that are common in senior dogs, and how to treat them.

Proper Senior Dog Care

As dogs get older, their immune systems weaken and they become more susceptible to certain diseases and conditions. Although different breeds have different average lifespans, most dogs experience the same issues as they get older. Whether you have a small dog or a large dog, it’s important to understand the conditions they might get as they age, and how you can make sure they’re still living their best life. Some conditions commonly found in senior dogs and ways to treat these conditions include:

  1. Dementia
    • Dementia in dogs, referred to as canine cognitive dysfunction, is unfortunately fairly common. Roughly 15 to 35 percent of dogs over the age of 8 suffer from CCD. Some signs of CCD include staring into space, accidents in the house, irritability, changes in sleeping patterns and changes in appetite. If you notice any of these behaviors, make sure to speak with your veterinarian as soon as possible. 
    • If your pup is suffering from canine cognitive dysfunction, or another mental disease, there are actions you can take to make their life more comfortable. Try to limit moving furniture in your home as this will confuse your pup, and contribute to their anxiety. Although it can be difficult, try to call your senior dog to come to you instead of approaching your dog. Older dogs are very temperamental and can lash out, even at the ones they love, so it’s best to avoid petting or picking up your pup if they didn’t approach you first. 
  2. Arthritis
    • As dogs age, their cartilage weakens, increasing their chances of arthritis. Some signs of arthritis include limping, excessive licking or biting paws and limbs, reduced appetite, struggle with stairs, running and getting out of their dog bed and a decrease in overall energy levels.
    • If you suspect your fur baby has arthritis, it’s important to ask your veterinarian to take x-rays and run diagnostics to get an accurate diagnosis. Your dog can still live a fun and fulfilling life with arthritis. Some ways to help your dog with arthritis is to regularly exercise your pup. You don’t want to do anything too strenuous, but losing a couple pounds can significantly reduce the pressure on your dog’s joints and ease their pain. You can also get them a padded dog bed to help make sleeping easier, as well as making sure they’re taking the appropriate supplements to help strengthen their joints and muscles. 
  3. Heart Problems
    • Another condition prevalent in senior dogs is heart problems. Many senior dogs develop heart issues, one of the most common being congestive heart failure. Congestive heart failure may be accompanied by symptoms such as fainting, coughing, wheezing, enlarged belly and lack of appetite. It’s important to take your dog in for annual checkups so the veterinarian can regularly monitor the heart and treat your pup as soon as possible if needed.
    • It’s a common misconception that dogs with congestive heart failure shouldn’t exercise, and should lead a relatively simple lifestyle. However, dogs with heart problems can still lead a fulfilling and active life! If your dog is diagnosed with a heart condition, make sure you put him on a strict diet approved by your veterinarian to help fuel his body. It’s also important to exercise your pup regularly and lightly. Even taking a short walk down the street is extremely beneficial towards your dog’s health. Plus, getting outside and getting to run around in the grass is always a treat for any pup!

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At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we’re passionate about making sure that the pet’s in your life have a fulfilling lifestyle, no matter what their age. If you have a senior dog, our team has the resources and tools to guide you and help you care for your senior pup. You can always browse our blogs to learn more about how to care for your pets, as well as ask us any questions you may have. If you’d like to learn more about how to properly care for your senior dog, make sure to call Ponderosa today!

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Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic is seeking an enthusiastic and caring veterinarian to work relief, part-time or full-time in our general practice. PVC is a full-service, 3+ doctor, small-animal veterinary hospital. We have established an excellent reputation for developing lasting relationships with our clients and for providing compassionate and quality care to our patients.