None of us like to admit it when our furbabies are getting old. To us, they’ll always be our babies. I still see my Rhodesian Ridgeback as a little puppy, I mean look at that face… But she is 8 years old – for a large breed dog, that’s well and truly in the “senior” group. Here are some of my top 5 tips on looking after your furbaby.

Meet Talia! My 8-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, ain’t she cute!

1. Bedding – comfort comes first!

As our furbabies age, we need to make them more comfortable. Pets suffer from arthritis just like us. We can not reverse the progression of arthritis, but we can definitely slow down the progression. Arthritis is very painful and most pets will not tell us when they are in pain. So, please remember to provide comfortable bedding and warm blankets (especially in colder months) to keep their joints warm and comfortable. Always speak to your vet to discuss what you can do your pets if they suffer from arthritis.

Talia has now gotten used to sleeping on the couch and on beds (much to my parents’ annoyance) because it’s a lot more comfortable than the sheepskin she used to sleep on on the floor.

2. Diet – time for a change!

Age affects the entire body – metabolism slows down, organs aren’t up to scratch and their mind slows down too. So our furbabies have new nutritional needs. Switching to a senior diet with added support will help reduce risk of problems such as obesity, gastrointestinal and joint problems. Your furbaby, both dogs and cats, will benefit from eating food made just for their age!

High-quality age specific food is vital for your aging furbabies health.

3. Dental – Hollywood Smile baby!

Dental problems and gum diseases are very common in geriatric dogs, so proper dental care, such as brushing their teeth, chew toys, chewables such as Greenies and dental kibbles are important. Regular dental check-ups with your vet is also vital as your vet will recommend dental scale and polish if required. This is the same as us getting our teeth scaled and polish! Dental disease is very painful and what makes it even more difficult is that, they don’t tell you when they are suffering from a tooth ache! A lot of older pets suffer from severe dental disease and end up having multiple teeth being extracted. Ouch!

4. Eyes and Ears – I can’t see or hear you Mummy/Daddy…

As dogs get older, their eyes can become cloudy (normal ageing process). However, any changes in the eyes should be checked out by a vet as it could be something very serious like cataracts. Hearing loss is also relatively common in older dogs, which is often difficult to figure out, but an observable sign is unusual or increased aggression when playing or patting your furbaby, since they will not be able to hear what is happening, the sudden touch can startle them.

5. Illness – I don’t feel well…

My previous Ridgeback passed away suddenly when she was seven years old – from disease called acute leukaemia. Her normal behaviour changed when she was about 6. She became aggressive towards other dogs when she hadn’t been aggressive at all before and barking at approaching people which she also hadn’t been doing before. The signs were so subtle it wasn’t alarming enough to notice the disease in time to help her.

In dogs 7 or over, it is very important to seek out medical attention if you see any changes in your dog; even if it’s just that they’re more tired than usual. As our furbabies get older, we need to be more diligent in their healthcare and pay attention to all the little details and consult your veterinarian when in doubt or have any concerns at all!

The team at My Vet will is always happy to help ensure that your furbaby is happy, healthy and age gracefully!

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