Question: My old dog is really slowing down. What could be causing this?
Answer: While “slowing down” can be a sign of more serious medical problems, arthritis and obesity are two very common conditions which can negatively impact the quality of your senior dogs life in this way. Obesity often makes the aches and pains of arthritis significantly worse—and arthritic dogs often lead very sedentary lives which contributes to their obesity problem. Most importantly, owners should not overfeed their senior dog! As dogs age their metabolism and activity levels decline—which decreases their need for calories. In general, older pets require 30-40% less calories than their younger counterparts.
Overfeeding will lead to weight gain, obesity and increased problems with arthritis. It is important for owners to continue exercise in their senior dogs in order to avoid obesity and keep their dog’s muscles strong to support their aging and arthritic joints. Swimming can be an excellent exercise for older pets as it limits stress on the joints and encourages a large range of motion. Owners of senior dogs may want to consider supplements like glucosamine (a cartilage-protecting agent) and omega 3 fatty acids (mild joint anti-inflammatory) to naturally improve mobility.
Unfortunately there are many health issues that senior dogs may face and the best “medicine” is to detect problems as early as possible for the best outcome. It is important to visit your veterinarian at least twice yearly with your senior dog to keep them their healthiest throughout their Golden Years. Check out my articles on Common Aging Changes—What is Normal and How to Care for Senior Pets and The Top 10 Secrets to Aging Gracefully for more information that might help your senior dog.
Dr. Donna Spector
Answers provided to pet owners by Dr. Donna Spector should be considered information and not specific advice. Answers are to be used for general information purposes only and not as a substitute for in-person evaluation or specific professional advice from your veterinarian. Communications on this site are very limited and should never be used in possible cases of emergency. Halo, Purely for Pets will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any information or content contained in a blog or article post. If you have consulted your veterinarian and if you are still concerned about your pet’s condition or if your pet has chronic, complicated or undiagnosed problems, Dr. Spector can offer consultations for you and your veterinarian via www.SpectorDVM.com.