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How to Take Care of a Senior Dog: Tips & Advice

As your loyal four-legged friend grows older, it's important to understand their changing health and wellness needs. Our Astoria vets share some advice on how to take care of an old dog, and how you can help your senior pooch maintain their health and happiness in their golden years.

Senior Dogs & Aging

Many of us are familiar with the widely accepted notion that one human year is equivalent to seven dog years. People often use this calculation to quickly assess their pooch's life stages and lifespan. However, this concept is not as simple as it might seem. Many factors, such as size and breed, contribute to a dog's aging process. 

It's important to keep in mind that smaller breeds of dogs tend to age at a slower rate compared to their larger counterparts. Small breeds are usually considered seniors at around 10 to 12 years of age, while medium breeds reach their golden years at 8 or 9 years, and large and giant breeds between 6 and 7 years. These guidelines offer a helpful framework for understanding your furry companion's aging process. 

Veterinary Care for Senior Dogs 

As your beloved furry friend becomes older, it's only natural to anticipate some changes in their behavior, appearance, and general well-being Some age-related changes, such as a graying muzzle, simply come with the territory of becoming a senior and do not require specific veterinary attention. 

However, pet owners need to be vigilant and watch for any signs that might offer clues that you need to visit the vet. Some of the most common signs to watch for include:

  • Poor or worsening hearing/vision
  • Mental dullness 
  • Tooth loss and dental disease
  • Loss of muscle tone 
  • Joint issues and arthritis
  • Reduced heart, kidney, and liver function 
  • Weight fluctuation (gain or loss)
  • Sleep abnormalities (not sleeping enough or sleeping too much)

As your older dog starts to show their age physically, remember to schedule routine wellness checks and veterinary care with your veterinarian. Doing this allows your vet to identify and treat any emerging geriatric conditions early on, and ensure your dog's health and comfort. 

During these exams, your vet will also assess your senior dog's mobility and nutrition and recommend changes to their exercise routine or diet that can help improve their well-being. Regular checkups and bloodwork are essential to keeping your senior dog healthy, so book an appointment with your vet today. 

Caring For Your Senior Dog 


It's critical to closely monitor your dog's nutrition needs as they enter their golden years. You'll likely see their physical activity decrease with age, leading to an increased risk of weight gain and potential health issues such as joint pain and cardiovascular disease. 

Your dog's diet can contribute significantly to their well-being as they age. Work with your veterinarian to find the food and calorie intake level that's right for your pooch at this stage of their life. Your vet may recommend switching to a weight-loss formula food. 

Prescription diets and supplements are available for senior dogs with specific health concerns. Your vet can recommend the best options for your pet. 

Proper nutrition is not only beneficial for your dog's physical well-being, but it can also support their mental health as they age. Just like humans, dogs can experience cognitive decline, but a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and regular exercise can help keep their minds sharp and alert.

Exercise (Physical & Mental)

As your furry friend grows older, it's crucial to keep both their body and mind active to ensure their overall well-being. A consistent exercise routine can help maintain a healthy weight and strengthen joints. 

However, it's important to be mindful of your dog's capabilities and comfort level during physical activity. Consider shorter, more frequent walks if you notice any changes in their enthusiasm for walks or runs. Any signs of discomfort, such as slowing down or hesitance to walk, could indicate underlying health issues like arthritis or hip dysplasia, so don't hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian for proper treatment.

In addition to physical activity, it's also important to provide mental stimulation for senior dogs. Whether it's through learning new tricks or playing interactive puzzle games, there are plenty of options available to keep your furry friend's mind sharp and engaged. So don't let age hold your dog back, bring out their inner pup and keep them mentally stimulated with fun and engaging activities.

How to Make an Old Dog Comfortable

Aside from ensuring they are receiving adequate veterinary care, nutrition, and physical and mental exercise, there are a few things you can consider doing to help your aging four-legged friend live out their golden years comfortably:

  • Orthopedic dog bed, heated dog bed (or heating pad/mat set to low heat under a blanket in their sleeping area) for dogs with joint pain or stiffness
  • More carpeting around a home with tile, laminate or wood floors can reduce slipping or tripping hazards for your older dog (some dogs also do well with dog socks that have non-slip soles)
  • Pet gates (or baby gates) can be placed at the top or bottom or stairs to prevent tripping or falling hazards
  • Improve accessibility with dog ramps to help your pet go up and down the stairs, on furniture, or into cars; elevating their food and water bowls can also help with neck and back pain 
  • If your dog has vision issues, seeing at night will be harder for them; some nightlights around the home will help them navigate

Geriatric Veterinary Care in Astoria

As your pet reaches their golden years, it's essential to provide them with the specialized care they need to maintain a high quality of life. Geriatric (senior) veterinary care is a critical aspect of your dog's overall health and well-being, and it can help extend their life and keep them healthy. 

At Steinway Court Veterinarian, our veterinarians understand the unique needs of senior pets and are dedicated to providing the best possible care. We believe in the power of preventive care and routine wellness exams to catch and treat emerging health issues before they become more serious.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have questions about how to make an old dog happy and comfortable in their senior years? Contact our vets at Steinway Court Veterinarian to schedule an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

At Steinway Court Veterinarian, we are always accepting new patients. Our vets are dedicated to keeping pets healthy and happy in our Astoria clinic. Contact us today to book your first appointment.

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