Although we are at the tail end of winter, Melbourne is still shivering through icy conditions that resulted in snow throughout central Victoria over the weekend. Whilst most dogs relish the opportunity to roll in snow, mud and puddles when the mercury drops, the cooler months can be harder for senior dogs (aged over 7). At this age, cold and wet weather can make things a little uncomfortable, as older dogs tend to have a harder time keeping themselves warm and age related conditions such as arthritis can flare up. This week, we thought we’d look at a few things you can do to keep your senior dog snug and happy until that spring weather finally does arrive.
Keep them warm
Senior dogs need a little extra help when it comes to keeping the cold at bay. If you have a shorthaired senior or a smaller dog who feels the cold, consider investing in a sweater to keep their torso warm. If your dog refuses to wear clothing, focus on upgrading their bedding by layering on an extra fleece blanket, or investing in a heating pad. Putting something like carpet squares, towels, or a blanket between your dog’s bed and the floor can also help keep your pet cosy.
Get them moving
Whilst it’s important to keep your senior dog warm, we don’t recommend confining them indoors for the winter months unless they are extremely old and frail. Most senior dogs benefit from light exercise such as regular walks as this helps maintain muscle mass and prevents joints from getting stiff and sore. When you do take your senior dog out for walks, we recommend keeping them on a leash at all times to keep them safe, as winter can often dull their already weakened senses. Also keep in mind that your senior dog doesn’t have the energy and stamina that they used to, so avoid overdoing it by taking them on a short walk in the morning, and another in the afternoon if they seem interested rather than taking them on one long walk where they may become overtired and injure themselves.
Take them for a check up
If you know your senior dog’s arthritis flares up during the winter months, it’s worth bringing them in to the vet to ensure their condition is stable and they are receiving the right dosage of medication. Your vet may also recommend a specialised diet which incorporates glucosamine and chondroitin to help keep your senior dog’s joints lubricated.
At Vets in Cranbourne we love to see our senior dogs! We recommend seniors come in for check-ups once every six months, as health conditions are more common in older animals and can deteriorate faster than in younger dogs. Book your senior dog in for a check-up with us by calling 03 5995 3444.