Your furry friend has been your faithful companion for years, and lately, you’ve noticed they have less energy. Caring for a senior pet differs from a younger dog. You may need to change routines, activity levels, or food. 

We know it’s difficult to watch your dog get older and slow down. If only our fur babies would live as long as humans. Being prepared to care for an older pet can ease any potential hurdles along the way. This article provides some tips to help you care for your senior dog to the best of your ability.

At What Age Is A Pet Considered Senior? 

In general, pets, and dogs specifically, are senior when they are seven years old. However, small breed dogs are often considered senior between five to six years old. In addition, large breeds typically have shorter life spans than smaller breeds. The positive is that our pets can live longer with appropriate health care due to the ever-evolving veterinary field.

What Do Senior Pets Need?

Here are five ways to ensure your dog is getting the right supplies and attention.

1. Supplies

Your senior pet might require special gear. If you’ve noticed that some of the old leashes, toys, or beds no longer meet their needs, it’s time to go shopping. For example, your pet could benefit from booties to keep their feet warm on chilly days Or, perhaps, opt for a doggie jacket for walks. 

A waterproof dog bed is another critical product for dogs that begin to have accidents. It’s common for older pets, so being prepared is beneficial. Before you purchase the bed, make sure that it’s machine washable. Or consider a water-resistant outdoor bed to use indoors for your senior pet.

2. Pet Insurance

Older pets are prone to more health issues. Going to the vet can be hard on our budgets. Therefore, you may want to consider a pet insurance policy once your dog gets into senior years.

Choosing the right pet insurance plan can be confusing. We recommend asking your vet for recommendations and researching resources from companies like GoodRx. You can find insurance that is affordable and offers comprehensive coverage. Be sure to look for a plan that will cover vet bills for accidents, injuries, hereditary conditions, chronic illnesses, and more.

3. Gentle Activity

When your dog was younger, there was a lot more energy to go around. There’s likely more time spent napping than playing in the senior years. However, even if your pet has mobility challenges, it’s still important to get daily exercise. 

You can ensure that your senior pet gets all the benefits of physical activity without feeling exhausted or strained. We recommend taking short walks and allowing your dog to set the pace. Monitor for any signs of discomfort afterward and adjust your routine if needed.

4. Medication Management

Your senior pet may need medication daily. Whether it’s to treat acute illnesses or for another reason, managing medications can be stressful. That’s why it’s essential to take an approach that works for you and your dog. For example, your pet might be reluctant to take meds, especially in pill form. To make the process easier, try hiding the pills in strong-smelling food so they won’t notice the medicine. If this method doesn’t work, you can also ask your vet for additional tips. 

5. Adjust Food

As your pet gets older, their dietary needs might change. For example, they could start having sensitive teeth and gums, which would increase the need for softer foods. Or, they have difficulty digesting the food they used to eat. Higher levels of specific nutrients could help. We recommend asking your vet for the best brand for your dog. 

To gradually transition your dog to a new food, be sure to mix it with the older formula first. Making the switch too abruptly can upset your pet’s stomach.

What Should I Expect From My Senior Dog?

Caring for a senior pet can be challenging and joyful at the same time. However, if you can adapt to your pet’s changing needs, you can make the most of their golden years. With these tips, your pet will be safe, comfortable, and happy as the years go on! 


Written by our guest blog author, Nick Burton. Nick and his wife lost their lab/terrier, Willie, when he was 15 years old. He crossed over the rainbow bridge, and they’ve spent the last year grieving the loss of their best friend. Nick wants to take what they’ve learned to help others navigate caring for a senior pet.



January 27, 2022 — Denise Kakas