What I Have Noticed about Living with A Senior Dog
As the proud owner of 2 senior whippets (11 and 12 years old), I have noticed that life with them changes and evolves as they age- very much like us humans! They become all the more cuddly and wonderful but their needs are a little different now than in their younger years. This is based on personal observations of my own dogs and is by no means science based! Here is what I have noticed.
Gone are the days when we took endlessly long walks. Now the whippets will comfortably walk about 45 minutes a day, which is mixed with days of shorter and, on rare occasions longer, walks. This used to stress us out a little, having had years of needing to tire cheeky adolescent hounds to guarantee a good nights sleep. We have since realised that they are very aware of their own energy levels and will manage what they need pretty well. We do still get zoomies on occasion.
They can happily have a rest day with some mentally tiring games in the house, and a leisurely sniffy walk with toilet breaks on occasion, which gives their niggly legs a rest! This doesn’t stress us out any more- we are much more flexible with our walk times and are planning to invest in a doggy carrier so that we can get out and about on longer walks on holiday.
All dogs need plenty of good quality sleep to be healthy and happy. Older dogs, like people, perhaps more so. It is really important therefore to make sure that they have a calm, cosy space in which to take time out when they want to. This is particularly important if you have a busy, noisy home. My boys love to be warm and this has become more prevalent since they have been over 10! They now have whippet PJs for chilly winters and plenty of blankets all over the house.
The needs of the bed also alter. Older dogs may have achy limbs or limited mobility, so a really soft, comfortable bed will help them. For dogs suffering with arthritis, a heat mat may also be a good investment. This is on our list for the future. Be sure to have warm coats also- our favourite whippet products here.
We are constantly monitoring and tweaking the food intake of our dogs depending on the weather (they get so hungry in winter!), and their activity levels. It is really important to keep them at a healthy weight in their senior years as obesity is so detrimental to their health. Equally, if you notice your senior dog reducing their intake, a chat with the vet is worthwhile. My hounds have supplements added to their food for mobility health and also a probiotic sprinkle for a healthy gut.
Wood and laminate floors have become trickier for my boys. They find them quite slippery so we have invested in rugs in their through-routes. They also find stairs harder, so we are more sensitive to them needing a lift upstairs at times.
My senior boys are less content to be left also and more anxious when separated too. I was recently told by an excellent vet that if dogs are experiencing pain they may well be more clingy so another sign to note and keep an eye on if you have a senior. Any change of behaviour is worth a chat with a trusted vet.
As their mobility changes, it is really important to make sure that fresh water is always in an accessible place. A raised feeding bowl may also be helpful.
We have noticed lighter fur, with plenty of silver hairs appearing, particularly around their snoots. They have developed fatty lumps, which was have regularly measured and checked by the vet, and also warts here and there. Each of their lumps and bumps add to their unique characters and are adorable.
Living with senior hounds
Living with a senior dog is as fulfilling as raising a puppy. They are full of love and fun and can still be found flinging a toy rabbit around the house. What never changes with age is their stealth-like ability to sense unattended food so always, always keep one eye open…they are always watching (as all whippet owners will know too well)!
Happy senior years to all of the beautiful hounds xxx