Senior black puggle.

Senior Dog Care: A Focus on Silver Snouts and Aging Dog Wellness

Based on an article that first appeared at

As our loyal companions enter their golden years, their care needs evolve, and as a dedicated veterinarian, I'm here to guide you through this journey. Aging is a natural process, and with it comes changes that may affect your dog's health, behavior, and overall quality of life. But fear not, with the right support and care, your senior dog can continue to lead a happy, comfortable, and fulfilling life.

In this blog, we'll dive into the essentials of senior dog wellness, from recognizing the signs of aging to understanding the health challenges that may arise. We'll explore practical ways you can support your aging pet at home, and why leaning on your veterinarian's expertise is more important than ever during these years. Our goal is to empower you with knowledge and strategies to ensure your senior dog not only ages gracefully but thrives. So, let's begin this journey and celebrate every moment we have with our silver-snouted senior pups.

Understanding Senior Dog Years

Firstly, let's define when a dog is considered a senior. While the age varies by breed and size, most dogs enter their senior phase around 7 to 10 years old. Small breeds tend to live longer and may become seniors later than large breeds.

This phase is significant because aging brings changes in metabolism, activity levels, and health risks, necessitating adjustments in their care.

The top 5 changes we see in senior dogs:

  1. Decreased Mobility and Joint Issues: Many senior dogs develop arthritis, leading to stiffness and difficulty moving.
  2. Cognitive Changes: Often referred to as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, this affects memory, perception, and awareness.
  3. Changes in Sensory Capabilities: This includes diminished hearing and vision loss.
  4. Weight Gain or Loss: Due to changes in metabolism, along with varying dietary needs.
  5. Increased Vulnerability to Chronic Diseases: Such as kidney disease, heart disease, and diabetes.Daushund at veterinary office. Senior blood panel for dog.

Senior Dog Wellness Exams

Regular wellness exams are imperative for our senior pups. These check-ups allow us to monitor significant health indicators like weight, vision, heart function, and detect any developing health issues. Each exam is a thorough, nose-to-tail evaluation, including checks for common age-related conditions like nuclear sclerosis, dental health, arthritis, heart murmurs, and so much more. We recommend these exams twice a year for our senior pets to allow early intervention and diagnosis of any issues.

Regular Blood Work for Senior Dogs

As mentioned before, as dogs age, they become more susceptible to various health issues, making regular blood work an essential tool for early detection and management of potential problems. Blood tests can reveal issues like kidney disease, liver problems, diabetes, or hormonal imbalances before they become serious.

Why Bloodwork Is Beneficial:

  • Early Detection of Diseases: As pets age, they become more susceptible to various health issues, such as kidney disease, liver problems, diabetes, thyroid imbalances, and cancers. Yearly bloodwork can help detect these conditions early, often before your pet shows any outward signs of illness. Early detection can lead to more effective management or treatment.
  • Monitoring Chronic Conditions: If your senior pet has a chronic condition, regular bloodwork is essential to monitor the progress of the disease and the effectiveness of any ongoing treatment. Adjustments to medication or diet can be made based on these results.
  • Baseline Data: Yearly tests provide a record of what's normal for your pet, which can be invaluable if they become ill. Changes from their baseline can give vets clues about what might be wrong.
  • Preventive Care: Regular testing can identify risk factors for disease and allow for preventive measures to be taken before a condition becomes serious.
  • Aging Changes: As pets age, their bodies change. What was normal at five years old may not be normal at ten. Yearly tests help keep track of these changes.

The types of bloodwork and tests recommended for senior pets typically include:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): Checks for anemia, infection, and other blood-related conditions.
  • Biochemistry Profile: Assesses organ function, including liver and kidneys, and checks for diabetes.
  • Thyroid Function Tests: Especially important in older cats, as hyperthyroidism is common.
  • Urinalysis: Helps assess kidney function and checks for urinary tract infections or diabetes.
  • Blood Pressure Measurement: High blood pressure can be a silent problem in senior pets.
  • Screening for Internal & External Parasites: Continues to be important in senior pets. If contracted, these can be more harmful in older pets.

Check out our wellness program which allows you to make monthly payments for your pet's annual visit, preventatives, senior blood work and cancer screening.

Depending on your pet's health history and current condition, your veterinarian might also recommend specific tests such as X-rays, ultrasound, or more specialized blood tests. Regular wellness exams and these tests are imperative for maintaining the health and quality of life of your senior pet. Remember, early intervention can significantly improve the quality of life for your precious pup!

Close up of senior beagle.Senior Safe Exercise and Environment

Exercise remains important for senior dogs but should be appropriate for their age and health status. Gentle walks, short play sessions, and low-impact activities like swimming can keep them active without straining their joints. Your veterinarian can help you determine what sort of activities would be best for your senior.

Having a safe and engaging environment is key for our senior dog's well-being. Simple measures like securing gates, preventing falls, and providing comfortable resting spots can significantly enhance their safety. Keeping them mentally and physically stimulated with appropriate toys, games, and interaction is also important for their overall happiness.

Senior Dog Dietary Needs

As our canines enter their golden years, their dietary needs evolve, requiring special attention to ensure their continued health and vitality. Senior dogs, much like their human counterparts, can face a variety of age-related challenges that can be mitigated or managed with the right nutritional support. Senior dog diets are crafted to cater to the unique nutritional needs of aging canines. These foods typically contain fewer calories to help prevent unwanted weight gain—a common issue in less active senior dogs, which can exacerbate joint problems and other health conditions.

But it's not just about reducing calories; these diets are designed to be rich in key nutrients that support overall health in older dogs:

  • Joint Support: Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA, can help reduce inflammation and support joint health. Glucosamine and chondroitin are also beneficial, often included in senior diets to aid in maintaining cartilage health and joint mobility.
  • Cognitive Function: Ingredients rich in antioxidants, like Vitamin E, Vitamin C, selenium, and beta-carotene, can help protect against cognitive decline.
  • Digestive Health: Diets with easily digestible proteins, added fiber, and probiotics can support digestive health, making sure that senior dogs absorb the nutrients they need effectively.

Wellness Throughout the Years

Caring for a senior dog is a journey filled with love, patience, and a bit of extra attention to their changing needs. As they step gracefully into their older years, it's our privilege to support you so they do so with comfort, joy, and the best health possible. Embracing senior wellness through regular veterinary visits, tailored nutrition, and understanding their evolving needs can make all the difference in their quality of life. Remember, aging is not a disease; it's a natural part of life that we can navigate together with compassion and expertise. Here's to cherishing every moment with our faithful companions, allowing their senior years to be as fulfilling and vibrant as every stage before.

If you have questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (319) 277-7675, or you can email us at [email protected]. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram.


  • Dog Senior Care