The Jack Russell Terrier is an energetic high adrenaline breed. However, old age catches up with us all, human or canine. This guide will give tips on aging and health signs to keep a lookout for and ways you can make their twilight years better.
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What age do Jack Russells begin to slow down
Jack Russells are a relatively long-lived breed with a life expectancy of around 15 years of age. Most Jack Russell remain active and full of energy for most of their lives even into old age.
Every dog is an individual. Some will show signs of aging around 10 years old while others may not show any signs of aging at all. Often the signs of aging can come on quite quickly. Over the space of a few months. You may realize one day that your beloved little terrier is getting old.
The age most Jack Russell begins to slow down may not be until they are 12 or 13 years old. To learn more about how to calm a Jack Russell see here.
Signs your Jack Russell is getting old
When your Jack Russell reaches those senior years you may notice signs that they are starting to feel their age. Things to watch out for are;
Change in mood
Your Jack Russell may start to become a little grumpy and impatient. This can include becoming less tolerant of other dogs and animals and children. They may growl or bark at things that would not have previously bothered them.
If you do notice this ensure they are given their space. The last thing you want is for them to snap at a child or get into a fight with other dogs.
Want to be on their own more
Jack Russell usually loves the company of people. You may find they are taking themselves off into another room or outside to avoid being bothered. Again, give them their space. It is also a good idea to have them checked by your vet to ensure they are not suffering pain or discomfort.
Dogs sleep a lot of the time anyway. Your Jack Russell probably sleeps 12 to 14 hours a day. When they reach old age they may be sleeping for most of the day and night with shorter active periods.
Have become less active
Jack Russells are a high energy active breed. You will notice when they just don’t seem to have the same level of energy. However, it is important to ensure they still get daily exercise.
Exercise is important as older Jack Russells tend to put on weight. It is also crucial to keep their joints and muscles moving to keep them supple and strong. When exercising an older dog it becomes a balancing act. Too much and they may become sore. Insufficient exercise and they may gain weight and lose condition. For a guide to exercise for a senior dog see here.
Jack Russell old age health issues
Jack Russell Terriers are a robust and generally healthy breed. As with all older dogs, there are some common health issues your Jack Russell may develop.
If you have any suspicions that something is not right with your older Jack Russell consult your vet for a full check-up.
These are some of the potential health issues your old Jack Russell may develop;
Dental issues – after a lifetime of using their teeth wear and tear are normal. If there is a bad smell coming from their mouth they may have rotten and broken teeth or gum disease.
Obesity – Jack Russells can be prone to weight gain. This is due to them being less active and overeating. It is best to switch them to a senior dog food formula and to reduce dog treats and scraps from the table. A senior dog food formula will be lower in calories as well as contain supplements such as glucosamine to support their joints. Ensuring that they receive exercise is also crucial for weight management.
Epilepsy – It is not uncommon for an older dog to start to have seizures and develop epilepsy. I have had an old dog myself that this happened to. With medication, this can be managed.
Diabetes – This is caused by low levels of insulin in the blood and urine. It is important to consult your vet for treatment and management of diabetes.
Wobbler Syndrome – This is a neurological disease that results in episodes of shaking. The disease normally affects the spine near the dog’s neck region. See why do Jack Russell shake to learn more about this.
Tracheal Collapse – This is when the tracheal cartilage collapses causing serious difficulty breathing.
Blindness – This can be partial blindness or they can go completely blind. For tips on living with a blind dog see here.
Deafness – This is a partial loss of hearing either in one ear or both or complete deafness.
Arthritis and joint issues – Arthritis cannot be cured and will probably worsen over time but it can be managed. For tips on helping your dog with arthritis see here.
Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) – This is when a dog’s awareness, perception, and memory can begin to decline similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
This list does not cover every possible health issue an old Jack Russell Terrier may suffer from. It is important, especially at this stage of your dog’s life, to consult with your vet if you have any concerns or questions.
Jack Russell old age care tips
Feed a Senior dog food
The nutritional requirements of a senior dog are different from those of a younger dog. Feed a dog food that is formulated for older dogs. These formulas will have fewer calories to manage weight, different protein levels to maintain muscle and other essential ingredients for joint health and boost the immune system.
Exercise is still important even when your Jack Russell is old. It is important to get the balance right. Too much exercise may leave them feeling sore while not enough may cause them to stiffen up.
Exercise will help with weight management and keep their joints and muscles mobile and strong. For a guide to senior dog exercise see here.
Provide a safe space
Older dogs sometimes just want to be left alone. Provide an area where they can go so they are not bothered by other people, children, or pets in the household. A dog crate with the dog open with their bed and some toys are ideal.
Stimulate their mind
Provide mental stimulation and enrichment to keep your senior Jack Russells mind active. Just as in humans, if you don’t use it you lose it. This will also benefit them psychologically by preventing boredom and feeling down. For a guide to mental stimulation and enrichment for senior dogs see here.
Older dogs can have trouble getting up or walking on slippery hard surfaces such as tiles and vinyl. Put mats down to help with this. Also, ensure their claws are maintained. It is important that an old dog is able to use these paw pads.
Provide steps to avoid jumping
Jack Russells are usually pretty good at jumping up onto the sofa or bed. However, when they get older this becomes more difficult. If your Jack Russell is allowed on the furniture provide them with some dog stairs to make it easier for them. View Pet Steps on Amazon.
Keep them warm
During the colder weather, an old dog can get stiff and uncomfortable. Keep the room temperature a little warmer for them. Alternatively, you can put a jacket on your Jack Russell. View dog coats on Amazon here.
Do a physical check
Physically run your hands over your Jack Russell to check for any lumps or changes. This can also be part of brushing or when giving them a massage. If you find anything you are concerned about consulting your vet is recommended
Tips for blind dogs
If your older Jack Russell is losing their eyesight or is completely blind there are many ways you can make life a little easier for them. Dogs use their sense of smell as their main sense and can live happily even if they are blind.
The first thing to consider is making their environment safe and easy to navigate. Remove any potential hazards and limit access to any harmful areas. Also, don’t move the furniture. Once your blind dog has mapped there surrounding they expect certain objects and furniture to be in a certain place.
For a blind dog, their sense of smell is probably one of their best guides. You can use different essential oils in different areas to help your blind dog know what room they are in. For example, you can put a drop of lavender oil near their bed, a drop of vanilla oil in the kitchen, and so on. Only use a very small amount of oil as a dogs sense of smell is very powerful and too much can become overwhelming for them.
For more tips on helping a blind dog see here.
Tips for helping with arthritis
The majority of dogs will develop arthritis when they get old. Arthritis can not be cured but there are many ways you can make them more comfortable. The first thing is to consult your vet who can prescribe pain relief if required.
Gentle massage can also help to relieve pain. For a guide of how to massage a dog see here.
View Orthopedic dog beds on Amazon here.
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