guide on caring for a senior jack russell terrier

Caring for a Senior Jack Russell Terrier

As much as we want to keep our dogs forever, and no matter how deeply we may wish for them to stay puppies for years and years – it is not how things work, and your Jack Russell Terrier will eventually grow old and become a senior dog.

When this happens, there are a few things to consider if you want to prolong your pup’s life as much as possible, and if you want to spare them from pain caused by the progression of time; because while the following is important throughout your dog’s life – it becomes increasingly essential as they begin to age.

A Senior Appropriate Diet

a senior jack russell terrier having appropriate diet
Image by Juncala from Pixabay

The nutritional needs of a dog will change continuously throughout its lifetime; a puppy needs certain amounts of specific nutrients adult dogs have slightly different needs and – you guessed it – senior dogs need dog food made to benefit their aging bodies.

If your Jack Russell Terrier is approaching the age of 7 or 8, it might be a good time to start looking into a diet change, especially if you have been feeding a lower quality food product in the past.

Aging dogs are known to experience problems with their hips and joints – just like human seniors – and the best way to prevent pain and discomfort is by offering a high-quality dog food with plenty of premium protein.

You can recognize a protein-rich dog food by reading through the ingredients; a named meat product should be listed first and preferably also second (fresh meat or meat meal), and you want to avoid animal by-products all together as these are not considered a quality protein source.

Good senior dog food should also contain Glucosamine and Chondroitin – two things known to strengthen bones and joints. Both are produced naturally in the canine body, but this production slows down with the years and they may need a boost as they get a little older.

Jack Russell Terriers are very active dogs that love to jump, and these behaviors can cause stress on their bones, making additional Glucosamine and Chondroitin even more important. Do your research to find the best dog food for Jack Russell Terrier seniors and try to choose a natural option without added flavor, color or preservatives.

Moderate Exercise

a senior jack russell terrier having a moderate exercise
Image by Melanie from Pixabay

Exercise continues to be important for senior Jack Russell Terriers too, but it is important to revise the type of exercise you do with your dog, as they may no longer be able to be as active as they were when they were younger.

You might want to avoid activities that include jumping – like Agility and Flyball – and you might also need to cut down on games like Fetch if you notice any signs of pain in your golden oldie.

The abrupt starts and stops when playing fetch can cause discomfort if your JRT is suffering from arthritis or other bone- and/or joint conditions, but common sense and a veterinarian can help you determine this.

Outdoor time continues to be essential, though, but you might have to adapt your routines to take shorter but more frequent walks if your Jack Russell no longer enjoys long and overly active walks.

The golden rule is to pay attention to your JRTs response to physical exercise and to make changes when changes are due. For seniors that are no longer able to be as active as they would want – you can compensate with fun mind games like food puzzles and sniff- and search exercises.

Regular Veterinary Checkups

jack russell terrier doing regular veterinary checkups
Photo by Sherry Wright on Unsplash

A senior Jack Russell Terries should be up to date with all his- or her shots, and you might want to consider taking more frequent trips to the vet. The more you know about your Jack Russell’s physical condition, the easier it will be to prevent any serious health concerns by catching these early.

Have your trusted veterinarian examine your dog properly by checking joints, heart, overall physical condition and more, and repeat this process at least once a year or whenever you have concerns.

Helpful Accessories

Young Jack Russell Terriers love to jump, and they are very committed to cuddling on the couch with their human family members! As they grow older, however, jumping up on beds and couches might become an issue if they suffer from stiff joints or pain.

A way to help your senior JRT is by purchasing dog staircases – special small staircases made to help dogs safely up on furniture. You can find these in select pet stores or online, and there is a wide selection to choose from.

You could also choose to elevate your senior Jack Russell Terrier’s food- and water bowl, as some senior dogs experience neck pain. Purchase elevated food bowls in the right size for your dog or find something suitably sized to place the bowls on top of, so that your Jack Russell won’t have to bend all the way down to the floor to drink and eat.

Knowing Your Dog

No one knows your dog better than you do, so pay attention to all the small indicators of something being wrong. If your JRT changes its behavior in any way; perhaps by no longer jumping up and down when you come home, or if they stop paying interest to food, then it is time for a trip to the vet. It could be nothing, but with a senior dog you never know, and it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Jack Russell Terriers are known for living very long lives, and while it may give you a few extra years with your furry friend – it also puts the dog at an increased risk of all the health problems that come with age.

Be vigilant and make sure your dog is comfortable. A veterinarian can help determine when there is a serious health issue in the making, and they can help you decide what to do, but it is your responsibility as an owner and a dog lover to make sure your senior JRT gets veterinary attention when needed.

Good dog food, exercise, veterinary care, and love goes a long way, so do what is right by your aging dog and provide them with the necessary attention as they grow older.  

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