5 Things to Consider When Caring for Mature Dogs


Mature dogs require different care than puppies.  If your dog is moving from puppy to mature dog you want to know about caring for an older dog.  Here are five ways you can provide better care for your mature dog health.

  • The right food
  • Potential health issues
  • Physical limitations
  • Personal care
  • Changes that happen to behavior and daily routines

Know the Stages of a Dog’s Life

Everyone gets older and dogs are no exception. Older dogs have different needs than younger dogs. 

Dogs mature faster than people.  While there are differences in maturation of dogs, the generally accepted stages of a dog’s life are as follows:

Puppy

  • From birth to anywhere from 6 to 18 months.  During this time, puppies spend lots of time nursing and playing with their siblings.

Adolescent

  • This starts anywhere from 6 to 18 months and lasts till the adolescent reaches 1 to 3 years old.  In most cases, small dogs are dogs that mature quickly and complete adolescence sooner than larger dogs.  During adolescence, there’s lots of growth spurts and clumsy behavior.  Training mature dogs is possible, however, during adolescence is the best time for your dog to get obedience training.

Mature

  • Adulthood (mature) for a dog begins anywhere from 1 to 3 years old.  This begins when the dog reaches a general height and weight typical for an adult dog of their breed.  This is a time when dogs mature mentally.  At this time, most dogs mature and calm down.  Adult dogs need lots of exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

Senior

  • The age of a senior dog starts at 6 to 10 years old.  For most senior dogs, various health issues happen, including loss of stamina, difficulty jumping in the car or on the furniture due to joint pain and vision problems.

According to Reader’s Digest, “dog’s average life expectancy is 8 to 15 years.”  It’s important to know that each stage of a dog’s life has different requirements.  Here are some things to keep in mind for your mature dog.

The Right Food For a Mature Dog

When a dog reaches 90% of its expected adult weight, it’s considered a mature dog for feeding purposes.

“Adult dogs should be fed either once or twice a day. Use a high-quality commercial dog food…  Ensure the diet that you choose is complete and balanced. You can add meat, whether cooked or raw, and vegetables or fish for variety. Choose large, raw, meaty bones. Most importantly, don’t over feed.”

RSPCA Pet Insurance

The diet you feed your dog should be designed for the nutritional needs of its age.  Check package labels of dog food to make sure you are getting the correct food requirements for your dog.

“Aging dogs need the same nutrients as younger dogs; however, the quantity or the way the nutrients are provided may change.”

Michael Hayek, PhD
Research Assistant, specializing in geriatric nutrition
IAMS

Be careful about giving treats to your mature dog.  Treats are very high in calories and low in nutrition.  If treats are given freely, there can be too many empty calories to a canine’s diet. Instead of dog treats, consider non-food rewards such as toys and affection.  Remember to check your check your pet food store for low calorie treats too.

Health Issues Encountered by Mature Dogs

When dealing with mature dog health there are health risks and health related issues that you need to watch for. As dogs grow older the ability to fend of illnesses declines.  

Your veterinarian is an excellent source of guidanceAnnual visits to the vet for a mature dog are recommended.  When you visit, make sure that you prepare by having a list of questions and concerns about your dog.  This will increase the value of your veterinarian visit.

There are many different issues you can watch for in a mature dog.  The following may be indicators of aging or disease.

  • A dull, dry coat and flaky skin,
  • Joint stiffness,
  • Energy loss,
  • Weight gain,
  • Increased water intake,
  • Digestive problems, frequent constipation.
  • Other common disease and illnesses found in mature to senior dogs are blindness, deafness, kidney disease, dementia, gum disease and cancer.

“Owners play a crucial role in maintaining their pet’s quality of life as they age. It is our responsibility to watch for signs of declining health and other issues that can come as pets mature. Having baseline health statistics early in a pet’s life can really help Veterinary professionals know the normal ranges for your individual pet. A full blood panel, urinalysis, regular fecal exams and physical exams are key to seeing even slight changes in your pet’s normal ranges and can help identify illnesses effectively.”

Melodie A. Cole, RVT
Animal Health Technician

Remember, detecting health issues early gives your mature dog a greater chance to stay active and healthy into their old age.

Personal Care of a Mature Dog

As with younger dogs, mature dogs need grooming.  Grooming your dog regularly is an excellent way to show your animal that you care.  It helps keep your dog clean and healthy.  A well groomed dog looks great too.

Grooming isn’t just brushing your dog, it includes trimming their nails, cleaning their ears and in some cases, eyes and teeth.

During grooming, you can check for abnormalities, including skin problems like ticks, fleas or dry patches.  This can help you find problems at an earlier stage before they become more serious.

It helps if you start the grooming process when they are puppies, so that when they become adult dogs, they are comfortable with the grooming process.

How can an owner help a mature or aging dog, once it starts slowing down?

Daily Routine and Behavioural Changes

Adult dogs that are transitioning into older, aging dogs will go through behavioural changes. Many things could be impacted for a dog, including:

  • Memory
  • Ability to learn
  • Awareness
  • Sense of sight
  • Sense of hearing
  • Sense of smell

Changes begin to happen in sleeping cycles of mature dogs.  They become restless at night and sleepy during the day.  Their activity level shifts.  This can result in a variety of different behaviours, including staring at objects, aimlessly wandering or being more vocal.  They can also start taking care of themselves and their appetite can be reduced.

When becoming a senior dog, their memory can be impacted.  If this happens, they can forget previously learned commands or habit, including things such as house training and coming when called. Their anxiety levels can increase.  Your dog can become more prone to react aggressively.  Their social relationships with you and other pets can change too.  Some dogs become attached and overdependent.  Others become less interested in affection, petting or interaction. Understanding the changes your dog is undergoing can help you compassionately and effectively deal with dog behavior problems that may arise in your dog’s senior years.

As a dog owner, we know that you love your pet and you want the best for them.  If you keep in mind your dog’s changing needs as they get older, you can provide better care and help give them a long healthy life.

Choosing a dog daycare and dog boarding facility

dog eating birthday cake whilst dog boarding

 

Questions To Ask When Choosing a Dog Daycare and Dog Boarding Facility

Congratulations! You’ve just brought a new dog into your family and you’re looking for him to get some exercise and socialize during the day and/or board whilst you’re away on holiday. So what are the next steps? How do you choose a dog daycare and dog boarding facility? How do you know if it’s a reputable facility? It can be a daunting decision as you want the best for your fur baby. We completely understand and have compiled a few questions to get started along your journey to finding the perfect dog daycare!

  • Where will my dog be playing, sleeping, and eating?
      1. Every reputable dog daycare or dog boarding facility will be pleased to show you where your pup will be eating, sleeping, and playing. Though it’s not uncommon to have specific hours during which a tour can take place, be wary of any facility that won’t let you see the spaces that your dog will be occupying – everything should be transparent!
  • Who will my dog be playing with?
    1. This is an important question because sometimes small dogs don’t like being around big dogs or sometimes older dogs prefer a slower pace to life as opposed to being around rambunctious dogs. A good dog daycare or dog boarding facility will understand this difference and place the dogs in various play group based on size, temperament, and energy levels. Also, the best facilities will conduct personality assessments on each dog to ensure good playful group dynamics.
  • What does the facility look and smell like?
      1. When you book an appointment to visit the dog daycare, ensure you walk around the play areas and sleeping areas and have a good sniff! Lingering smells of urine, feces, stains and dirt can be signs that general cleanliness and upkeep is poor. You obviously want to ensure that your dog’s home away from home is as welcoming and clean as possible. Of course, accidents happen, especially with puppies, but look for signs of long neglected stains and smells.
  • What about emergencies or injuries?
      1. Ask specifically what happens in the unfortunate event of an injury to your dog and what procedures are followed should that it occur. The most reputable daycares will notify you immediately with the description and extent of the injury with a recommendation of care and then follow your directions. Reputable dog daycares will also have a policy in place should the owner not be reachable. Typically this takes the form of a vet authorization form, which will allow the daycare to seek care for your pup.
  • What insurance coverage does the company have?
      1. Every business will have some sort of general liability insurance but when it comes to your pet, you’ll want to ensure that any bites, scratches, or injuries are covered should your furry friend be injured at doggie daycare. Read over the contract that each daycare facility provides carefully as some will require that you have your own insurance while others may require you to pay the company’s deductible should you need to make a claim.
  • How experienced are the staff? Are they bonded?
      1. You’ll want to know who is handling your dog, what experience he or she has, how long the staff has been at that specific daycare, and if they’re pet first aid certified. These are important questions as it speaks volumes to the overall care by the daycare and dog boarding facility. If the daycare attendants are happy people, you know your pup is in good hands. You’ll also want to know if the employees are bonded. The bonding process involves a criminal background check of the employees. This is especially important if your daycare arranges a pick up or drop off service from your home.
  • Local Regulations and By-Laws
  1. Obviously, local regulations will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but there are a few general things to look for across jurisdictions.First – are they’re any regulations about how many pets can be looked after at any given time? In Toronto, there are limits on the number of dogs that can be walked on the public streets at the any time (3 dogs if you don’t have a dog-walking license and a maximum of 6 dogs if you do). The number of dogs that can be housed in a private dwelling is 3 dogs but in a commercial property, there are no limits to the number of pets that can be kept. Be sure to ask your daycare if they have a staff to dog ratios and if there any limits of the number of pets at any given time. Take into consideration of size of dogs and size of facility when hearing these numbers as 10 Yorkies are not the same 10 Huskies should the dog to staff ratio be 10 dogs to 1 staff.

    Second – for boarding, are there any regulations about keeping animals overnight? In Toronto, unless you are an Animal Hospital or a Vet Clinic, there is no zoning category that allows for animals to be kept overnight without a zoning by-law variance. Though this by-law section is rarely, if ever, enforced, asking your daycare and boarding facility about this can demonstrate their professionalism and willingness to operate and comply with the local regulations.

 

There’s a lot to digest in the questions above but this should get you started to selecting the right dog daycare for your dog! Feel free to contact us for further information or check out our website. Any questions that you can think of that we haven’t covered above – feel free to leave a comment and we’ll incorporate it into the next version of this article.

Breed of the Week: Basset Hound

The wonderfully cute, short-legged, droopy-faced Basset Hound! This adorable breed just melts your heart with their goofy demeanour, but don’t underestimate them! This breed is as hard-working as they come and always determined to follow their nose!

With their amazing sense of smell, it’s no wonder the Basset Hound was bred to be a hunting dog. Some people believe Basset Hounds were actually created from ‘dwarf’ dogs of other hunting breeds such as Bloodhounds. The shorter pups were bred for many years to eventually give us what we recognise today as the Basset Hound. The breed was taught to hunt in both packs as well as alone so they easily get along with other new dogs and very rarely show signs of dog aggression. Having such short legs does make them a bit slower than most dogs, which is perfect for their masters who are hunting on foot as they are more likely to catch up to the dog when they are on a scent.

Basset Hounds are still a popular companion choice for hunters today. Their sense of smell is a very close second to the Bloodhound.

Not only for avid hunters anymore, this breed makes a wonderful companion and family dog. They are typically extremely friendly dogs that love life and love everyone! The Basset Hound absolutely loves to play, but be careful with this breed at off leash dog parks! Their great sense of smell will often have them forgetting about the rest of the world (including you calling them to come back!). Recall is definitely something you will have to train and manage throughout your Basset Hounds life. It is a great idea to teach them games that use their brain and sense of smell such as ‘search and rescue’.

If you are considering bringing a Basset Hound into your family, keep in mind that being a natural hunter, they will make you aware of every single squirrel on your walk! Sometimes they will alert you with that big bellowing howl (which they do not always limit to outdoors). Basset Hounds like to be couch potatoes when they aren’t chasing down a scent, so make sure to include enough daily exercise as they will easily become overweight (also very food motivated!). Just as with other short-legged breeds, make sure they aren’t jumping or doing too many stairs as this can put a lot of strain on their joints and back, causing future health problems.

The Basset Hound is a great breed for individuals or families. They easily adapt to many different lifestyles. They have a true love for life and will surely make their owners lives brighter too.