Every dog owner cherishes the playful days of their pet’s youth, but time inevitably brings change. For the beloved Maltese, while there isn’t a universally fixed age marking their transition into seniority, most experts and enthusiasts agree that the 8 to 9-year threshold often signifies this new chapter. By the age of 10, a Maltese is undeniably in its golden years.
It’s natural for many owners to be hesitant, even resistant, to this realization. The desire to hold onto the vibrant days of youth is strong. Yet, embracing this phase is crucial. As our small Maltese companions age, their needs evolve, demanding adjustments in care. Being proactive, recognizing these changes early, and adapting care routines around the 8-year mark can make a significant difference in their well-being.
Anticipating Changes as a Maltese Ages
As the years roll by, our Maltese companions undergo a series of transformations, both physically and behaviorally. Recognizing these shifts is the first step in ensuring their continued comfort and happiness.
Being attuned to these changes not only helps in understanding our aging Maltese better but also paves the way for tailored care that addresses their evolving needs.
Senior Maltese Care Recommendations
As our Maltese companions gracefully age, their care requirements shift. Being attentive to these needs ensures they continue to thrive during their golden years.
Routine Geriatric Health Assessments
The frequency of health check-ups, for liver shunts or hip dysplasia becomes even more critical as our Maltese enters their senior years. While younger dogs might only need an annual visit to the vet, senior Maltese benefit from biannual check-ups. These visits should be comprehensive, encompassing a thorough physical examination, blood tests, urinalysis, thyroid screening, and more. Especially important are screenings like glaucoma tests and retinal exams, given their increased relevance for aging dogs.
Addressing Vision and Hearing Alterations
A decline in vision and hearing is a natural part of aging, but it’s essential to differentiate between expected changes and potential health issues. Early detection of conditions like glaucoma or cataracts can make a significant difference in management and outcomes. As our Maltese navigate these changes, we can adapt our homes to support them. Simple measures, such as maintaining consistent furniture placement or using auditory cues, can provide them with a sense of security and confidence in their environment.
Senior Maltese might have a reduced appetite, but the nutritional value of what they consume becomes even more crucial. Their meals should be easily digestible and cater to their evolving dietary needs. Ingredients like beta carotene, which can protect against conditions like cataracts and heart disease, omega-3 fish oil for skin and coat health, and glucosamine for joint health, become vital components of their diet.
Maintaining Healthy Skin and Fur
The Maltese breed, known for its luxurious coat, can face challenges related to skin and fur health as they age. The once silky and vibrant coat might show signs of dryness, and the skin underneath can become more sensitive.
As a Maltese matures, the top layer of their skin, the epidermis, gradually thins out. This thinning makes it harder for the skin to retain its natural moisture, affecting both the skin and the coat.
This is often reflected in a dry nose The reduced production of natural body oils can lead to issues like itching, peeling, and even cracking. Addressing these concerns proactively can prevent them from escalating into more severe problems.
Regular baths, spaced around every three weeks, can help. While the primary purpose is to clean, it’s also an opportunity to nourish the skin and coat with moisturizing shampoos and conditioners. Products like Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe, Vanilla & Almond Shampoo can be particularly beneficial for senior Maltese with dry skin.
In addition to baths, a leave-in conditioning spray can offer round-the-clock protection. Spritzing the coat every few days can prevent drying, reduce friction, and keep tangles at bay. During sunnier months, consider a spray with added sunscreen to protect against harmful UV rays.
Adapting to Mobility and Activity Changes
The Natural Progression
As our Maltese age, a decline in their energy levels and mobility is natural. The spirited jumps and brisk walks of their youth might become more measured, and the once tireless play might be replaced with longer rest periods.
One of the most common challenges senior dogs face is osteoarthritis. This condition involves the thinning of the cushioning between joints, leading to discomfort and pain. As it progresses, the bone itself can deteriorate, causing further complications.
The Importance of Exercise
Despite these challenges, regular, moderate exercise remains crucial. Gentle walks can keep their joints mobile and their spirits high. Established walking routes (differtent than a first walk with a puppy), free from surprises, can be particularly comforting for senior dogs.
Supportive Resting Spaces
Ensuring they have proper body support during their rest periods is essential. An orthopedic bed can provide the necessary support and comfort for their aging bodies, ensuring they get the rest they need without any added strain.
Dietary Supplements for Joint Health
Ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate can be beneficial for joint health. These supplements can offer relief from discomfort and improve overall mobility, making them a valuable addition to a senior Maltese’s diet.
Additional Measures for Arthritis
For Maltese diagnosed with arthritis, ramps or steps can help them access their favorite spots without straining their joints. And in some cases, veterinarians might prescribe medications to manage pain and inflammation.
Understanding and Addressing Behavioral Shifts
As Maltese transition into their senior years, it’s not uncommon to witness alterations in their behavior. Some of these changes are a natural part of aging, while others might indicate underlying health or cognitive issues.
One of the most noticeable changes is in their sleep patterns. Senior Maltese might nap more frequently during the day, yet their nighttime sleep could become restless. Ensuring they have a comfortable and supportive sleeping environment, such as an orthopedic bed, can help improve their sleep quality.
Another challenge that some senior Maltese face is incontinence. This isn’t a sign of forgotten house training but often results from weakened bladder muscles. Regular outdoor bathroom breaks and consulting with a vet can help manage this issue.
Sensitivity to Noise and Commotion
Senior Maltese might also become less tolerant of loud noises or chaotic environments. They may prefer quieter settings and might become agitated or stressed in noisy or unfamiliar situations. Providing them with a calm and consistent environment can make a significant difference in their comfort levels.
It’s also not uncommon for small senior dogs like French bulldog and Maltesers to become more attached or even clingy. They might exhibit signs of anxiety when left alone or separated from their primary caregiver. Understanding and addressing this separation anxiety is crucial for their emotional well-being.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD)
More pronounced behavioral changes might be indicative of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), a condition similar to dementia in humans. Symptoms can range from disorientation and confusion to changes in sleep patterns and decreased appetite. Early detection and intervention, including potential treatments and environmental adjustments, can help manage CCD and improve the quality of life for affected Maltese
Adjusting to Temperature Sensitivities
As Maltese age, their ability to regulate body temperature can diminish, making them more sensitive to environmental changes. This means that both cold winter months and hot summer days can pose challenges for our senior companions.
Maltese winter Care
During colder months, it’s essential to ensure that our Maltese stays warm and comfortable. Here’s how:
Maltese summer Care
Hotter months bring their own set of challenges:
Regardless of the season, it’s crucial to monitor your Maltese for signs of discomfort due to temperature changes. If they seem too cold or too hot, immediate adjustments should be made to ensure their well-being.
Embracing the Golden Years
It’s natural for us to wish for our beloved Maltese to remain youthful and energetic forever. However, the transition into senior years is an inevitable part of their life journey. Rather than resisting this change, embracing it allows us to provide the best care and support during this precious phase.
Reassessing Care Needs
As our Maltese reaches the age of 8 and beyond, it’s crucial to reevaluate their care routines. From dietary needs to exercise patterns, and from health check-ups to behavioral adjustments, every aspect of their care might require fine-tuning.
Cherishing Every Moment
The senior years can be a time of deep bonding and connection. While there might be challenges, like hip Dysplasia , there are also countless moments of joy, love, and companionship to be cherished. Every wag of their tail, every contented sigh as they snuggle beside you, and every gaze of their trusting eyes is a reminder of the special bond you share.
Seeking Expert Advice
Always remember that you’re not alone on this journey. Veterinarians, pet care experts, and fellow Maltese owners can offer invaluable advice, support, and resources to navigate the senior years with confidence.