Dogs are loyal friends who love unconditionally and have a scientifically-proven positive effect in the lives of their humans. In return, humans are able to give their furry best friends the care and love that they need to slow down the aging process and improves their quality of life in future years.
A regular care routine, combined with 15 minutes of brushing daily are important for the health and well-being of your senior dog. The moments that you dedicate to their hygiene can be great opportunities to discover health problems that are not noticeable otherwise. Skin conditions, fleas, warts, hairless spots and even cysts along the mammary chain or other parts of the body are some of the signs that can become visible during a bath or grooming session, such us brushing of the hair or teeth.
Whether you have a trustworthy groomer for your dog or you take care of their hygiene and maintenance yourself, older dogs need special care and considerations.
Brushing your dog’s fur with a soft brush massages the body and helps increase the blood flow in the skin and maintain a healthy coat.
Matted hair not only does not help regulate body temperature, but it can also get stuck and cause injuries to senior dog’s sensitive skin, which is most susceptible to infections. It is important to use a soft brush that is delicate and does not lose bristles to avoid scratching your pooch.
Some shampoos are specially formulated for dogs with sensitive skin, many of which are organic or based on natural compounds. Always rinse your dog with plenty of water to remove all residue, towel dry them, and use a hairdryer with the cool setting.
Keeping fleas and parasites off your senior dog helps maintain their skin healthy, which is susceptible to infections and complications derived from scratching.
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Even the largest and most active dogs are most vulnerable when they become older, so it is necessary to adapt some of your routines, including bathing, to that new stage of their life.
If you have a groomer that you trust or visit a canine spa regularly, your dog will be used to being bathed and pampered by another person. It is highly likely that the professionals at these facilities will be trained on how to adapt their services to the needs of a senior dog.
If you take care of the hygiene of your pet or you need to find a new groomer for your pet, it is important that you pay attention to these small details that make big differences:
- If you use a shower or take advantage of the summer to give your dog a bath outdoors, adjust the water pressure of the hose to ensure that your pooch receives a smooth massage that does not damage or bruise their skin.
- Make sure that the temperature is appropriate so that your dog never trembles or shivers while bathing, especially an older dog that is more prone to contracting all kinds of diseases.
- Maintaining good hygiene in areas more exposed to germs such as legs, anus and genitals helps prevent infections. Some older dogs suffer incontinence, have difficulty controlling their sphincter or have a hard time getting up and reaching the spot where they normally relieve themselves. Cleaning the legs with water or using wet wipes after a walk as well as shaving the area of the anus and genitals contributes to maintaining good hygiene and avoiding infections.
- Make sure to have the right tools, such as soft brushes that do not lose bristles, combs to remove knots and tangles, nail clippers or files, shampoo and conditioner, ear cleaner, swabs, towels, scissors, and a hair dryer with a cold air option.
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Teeth & Gum Care
Adjusting the consistency of the food, such as exchanging dry food for softer preparations, helps to alleviate dental problems and keep teeth healthy longer.
Maintaining oral hygiene by brushing regularly helps avoid the accumulation of tartar that, in turns, favors the accumulation of bacterial plaque, which is responsible for bad breath and various diseases. The bacteria that accumulates in tartar can cause inflammation and retraction of the gums (gingivitis), attacking and weakening the bone that supports the teeth, resulting in the breakage or loss of teeth. Infections can thus travel in the bloodstream and cause serious diseases in the heart and/or kidneys. As it is the case with humans, regular brushing helps avoid the accumulation of tartar, which happens more easily in older dogs and can only be removed mechanically through brushing, or by using ultrasonic removers.
Careful though! You should never use human toothpaste to clean your dog’s teeth. However, it is important to know that brushing with toothpastes specially formulated for dogs is the best method to prevent plaque buildup in older dogs.
In addition to brushing, there are other ways to help take care of your pet’s oral health. You can offer dehydrated or smoked organic bones and croquettes made from vegetables that, in addition to entertaining them, serve as a way to eliminate plaque and prevent bad breath. As they come in flavors that dogs’ appreciate, they are an ideal snack or treat to reward good behavior. There are also toys specifically designed to clean your pooch’s teeth. They are more durable than snacks, but not as popular because they do not have attractive flavors like bones and croquettes.
Merging the best of both worlds, some toys have toothpaste inside, so dogs feel enticed to chew on them and clean their teeth at the same time.
Due to decreased activity and hydration, an older dog will need to have their nails cut more often. Long nails force dogs to modify their posture, and since their extremities are affected by the aging process, keeping their nails short will avoid bone and joint pain. If you listen to your dog walking like a tap dancer, it is time to cut their nails!
The hair of the legs should also be kept short to expose their fingertips, which will allow them to better adhere to the floor and thus avoid losing stability and slipping or falling.
Eye & Ear Care
Ear infections are common in dogs of all ages, even more so in dogs most susceptible to diseases and illnesses. These can be caused by fungi or bacteria and are generally a consequence of food allergies or lack of hygiene. Dogs with long drooping ears are more prone to infections, since the humidity and temperature inside the ear provides an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply.
Removing excess hair from the inside of the ear is not the most pleasant part of having a dog, but it is vital for their health. Hair retains germs and dirt which, in addition to the humidity and darkness of the inside of the ear, favors infections of the auditory tract.
While ear wax has no odor, ear secretions caused by infections have a strong and unpleasant smell. In addition to causing pain, when they are recurrent, they can completely obstruct the ear canal.
With regard to the eyes, it is advisable to regularly clean any secretion or residue accumulated on the corner of the eyes with a cloth or gauze and warm water.