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Older pet care: Guide to caring for older dogs [eBook]

Older dogs are wonderful companions, and it is important for their owners to understand their needs to keep them healthy and happy as they age.

A dog’s life expectancy is determined by their genetics, lifestyle, nutrition and weight, alongside their calendar years, meaning their overall health status can influence their wellbeing. As their age increases, so does their susceptibility to health problems. Regular veterinary checks are required to monitor any age-related changes to differentiate these from indicators of serious health conditions. Symptoms or warning signs to be aware of include sudden (or slow but unintended) weight loss, changes in urination or defecation habits or difficulty moving. While staying alert to signs of disease, there are alternative ways to support your ageing dog’s health and well-being to maximise their golden years and improve their quality of life.

Weight Control

Dogs who are overweight or obese have a higher incidence of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, skin problems and some forms of cancer. Carrying excessive weight also worsens osteoarthritis which is common in older dogs. As older dogs have a slower metabolism, they typically don’t require the same calorie intake. Monitoring your dog’s weight and adjusting their food intake appropriately with the help of a veterinarian is important to help your dog reach or maintain a healthy weight.


Exercise is vital for maintaining your dog’s mobility, with adjustments made as your dog ages to keep them motivated and comfortable. This includes going for shorter walks, taking frequent breaks and making sure they aren’t exercising in extreme temperature conditions.


Keeping up your dog’s grooming routine is particularly important for keeping their coat healthy and shiny and preventing the formation of painful mats. This process also allows you to check your dog for any unusual lumps and bumps or skin problems that require veterinary attention. Paying attention to their nail growth is also necessary, since minimal exercise may mean that the nails are not worn down over time and so require regular trimming instead.

Download the Guide to caring for older dogs [eBook]

Image of Dr Rosemary Elliot

Dr Rosemary Elliot 

Dr Rosemary studied veterinary science at the University of Sydney after having established her career as a clinical psychologist, and has qualifications of BVSc (Hons), MANZCVS (Animal Welfare), MPsych (Clin), BA (Hons) as well as previously establishing her career as a clinical psychologist. Her experiences during veterinary training fostered an ambition to focus directly on animal welfare and ethics, with a particular interest in animal sentience and the human-animal bond. Currently working in small animal practice, Dr Rosemary combines her psychology background and veterinary skills to contribute to and promote animal welfare, and regularly contributes quality content to RSPCA Pet Insurance's Pet Care blog.