When your pooch’s sunset years start approaching, everyone adjusts their routine. From seven years going forward, a lab is a senior dog. Labrador retrievers actually have a lifespan of up to 12 years. In the final 5years, you need to keep your eyes more open to observe any changes. In this blog, we tell you what to look for as they age, plus caring tips.
Signs of an old lab
You trained your canine to go to the potty well. As time goes by, you notice it unable to follow the basic rules. If you start finding your carpet and rugs messed, the golden years are here. Be keen to observe it for some time as it may be as a result of an underlying illness.
Every time you call out commands, your pooch is unresponsive. Older Labs tend to suffer from this. They are prone to getting ear infections from swimming. Once you see the ears inflamed or removing any pus, their hearing could be getting strained.
Loss of vision
As a doggy parent to an old dog, you are encouraged to avoid giving your house constant make-over. You may find your pooch bumping into this or that. This is not a new game, but due to the inability to see well.
Nuclear sclerosis and cataracts are common to older labs. The good news is that it is correctable.
As your pooch grows older, they lower their activity. You will notice your dog sleeping up to 12 hours a day. With their sleeping place their new favorite spot, adding weight is inevitable. You need to check for signs that your lab is overweight here.
Back legs giving out
Have you seen your dog unable to jump into the car anymore? Climbing the stairs is another uphill task. There are many reasons that lead to your dog’s back legs giving out. One thing for sure, your canine’s hind legs could be getting weaker as you welcome the sunset years.
Uninterested in exercise
With advanced age, your lab is not the energetic puppy it was. Jumping here, running there can be things of the past. You will find yourself trying harder to motivate your lab to go for the morning runs or walks. This disinterest in exercising could be a result of fatigue, pain, or choosing sleep.
Shunning their favorite dog food
How does a lab get put off by food? I must be bluffing. On the contrary, your senior dog could start disliking his dry kibble. When you notice nearly full or untouched dog food in their food bowls, it’s time you considered their age factor.
Health issues that affect old Labradors
Lymphoma is a common cancer in dogs that can sweep out an old lab. The Labrador breed is susceptible to cancer infection.
Kidneys tend to slow down as years advance. You will notice your dog drinking and urinating more often. A definite loss of appetite is also a symptom of this.
Canine cognitive dysfunction affects old labs by making them exhibit confusion and disorientation. Even though old age may come with being dull, senility is a deeper issue affecting old labs.
Arthritis is a common reason that causes your dog’s legs to give out. You will start suspecting this after noticing your dog wincing in pain when walking. It can have shaking limbs and be unable to have good gait.
Coughing, excessive panting, and difficulty in breathing are tell-tale signs for heart disease. This creeps into your pooch slowly, beginning by erratic heart beating and slow pumps. For overweight and old dogs, heart disease is inescapable.
Tips for caring for your senior lab
Frequent veterinary visits
Your vet can detect a lot of problems even before they blow out of proportion. During the sunset years, make the vet your friend by reporting any off-track tendencies to him/her. During the vet visits, your vet will opt to keep the vaccinations on the low. This is to reduce tendencies of kidney failure attached to excess vaccination. Be sure to make these visits as frequent as you can. It saves you a lot of stress and bucks.
Grooming your old lab
There are ways you groom a Labrador puppy, which you may have used over the years. Now that your dog is older, you notice that you need to put some changes into your grooming routine. Grooming a senior lab will involve the following;
Skin and coat
Your lab’s coat will thin and appear as dull as it ages. Brush your dog often with a soft bristle brush. Check out for dandruff, ticks, fleas, and other parasites. You can use homemade solutions like lime water and milk of magnesia. Alternatively, there are shampoos and conditioners on the shelves for this purpose.
If your lab is a swimmer, be sure to look out for constant head shaking or discharge from the ears. Once out of the water, dry the ears with an absorbent cloth.
Manage the length of your dog’s nails by clipping once a week. This should be done often because an older dog may not be as mobile as a younger one. Younger dogs will be likely to clip off their nails as they move about.
Consult your vet to give you the right painkillers for your aging dog. Your dog could have sustained an injury, arthritis, or have other pain-related issues. Remember not to offer your dog, human pain killers. It could be fatal.
Alleviating the bed
Senior dogs love the sport of sleeping. Due to their weakening limbs, you can consider having an alleviated bed. There is a variety of beds to choose from. Most of the orthopedic beds offer extreme comfort to your pooch. Friends forever orthopedic dog bed and Dogbed4less Memory Foam Dog Bed are our top suggestions.
It may take time to settle in your mind that your dog is not the jumpy pup you once knew. Even so, exercise is important for the old version of your doggy. You may not necessarily go for the long hour-plus walks and runs as before. Introduce some fun indoor games that can give some exercise. When outdoors, limit it to a few minutes.
Maintaining a consistent exercise routine when your dog is old will assure it of longer life. Slimmer dogs live longer than their obese counterparts. During movement, be sure to move from using a leash to a harness. This offers more stability to your dog, which may be wobbly.
Use a ramp when car climbing
If you own a truck or big car that’s higher from the ground, your canine may be unable to climb. Aid your dog’s mobility by providing a ramp to climb on as they get in and out of the car.
Make your home easier to navigate
Ensure you remove the clutter in your house to avoid your pooch from hitting themselves. Spacing out your home will come in handy to support your dog that may have failing eyesight.
Choose the right dog food
Commercial foods on shelves have many senior-specific diets from 7-year-old labs going up.
If you are using homemade meals, reduce the calorie content to prevent weight gain. Reducing phosphorus also prevents kidney diseases. Always consult your vet before changing the diet of your dog. The vet will guide you on how to introduce the new meal type to ease your dog’s transition.
Also, consider buying a raised bowl for your dog. This will prevent it from straining its backbone in bending too much to eat.
Consider dog supplements
Fish oil, glucosamine, and chondroitin are popular senior dog supplements. Consult your vet to be able to be on the same page. You will be able to avoid giving your dog the wrong prescriptions.
Keep a dog diary
A dog diary will help you record any abnormalities that you observe. You can use it to note the beginning of a certain behavioral change you observed. This book comes in handy when visiting your vet as it is able to detail the arising issues. Truth is, you may be unable to remember everything about your lab.
Pamper your dog
Loading your dog with love is the ultimate tip to get it through the sunset years. It may be hard on you imagining how to love amidst the low energy and significant pain your pooch could be having. Bear in mind that the cuddles, and allowing it to sleep on your feet are what makes the lab feel loved.
Labs are very loyal, eager to please, and will want to do this till the end of their days. Whether you had it from the puppy stage or have decided to adopt an oldie, enjoy these golden years! Hop on to our blog and learn a lot about Labrador retrievers today!