How To Care For Your Old Whippet

how to care for your old whippet

We will all get old one day and unfortunately, so will our whippets, in fact, depending on how old you are, your whippet may become a senior citizen before you.

If your whippet is slowing down, you may wonder what you should be doing and how to care for them.

Your whippet may be getting up in age but not showing any signs of declining, which is great but you may notice a few things like perhaps their hearing isn’t quite as good or it takes a little longer to walk around the block than before.

Although we are never ready for our pets to become elderly, it’s best to be as prepared as we can for this time.

Sit back and take a load off. In this article, I’m going to give you some tips on how to care for your old whippet when they begin their golden years.

When Is A Whippet Officially Old?

When you bring your whippet home, it’s hard to even imagine that this small pup, full of vim and vigour, will one day get old. When is a whippet officially old?

There is no way to say “officially” when your whippet is old. All whippets are different as are all breeds. Many think between seven and ten years old is when a whippet becomes a senior, while others believe it’s not until their age is in the double digits.

People are considered senior citizens at sixty-five, but a person may tell you they are sixty-five and it’s hard to believe because they look and act so much younger.

Others may say they are sixty-five and you see seventy-five. Just as with humans, there are factors that will affect your whippets ageing process. If your pup was well taken care of with good diet and exercise, they may not show signs of ageing until they are much older.

Whippets who had pet parents who slacked off on exercise and offered too many unhealthy snacks may show their age sooner with health problems or sore joints from carrying excess weight.

Although whippets are a relatively healthy breed, some whippets, even those well cared for, may show their age if they have any underlying or inherited medical conditions.

How Long Do Whippets Live For?

A whippet’s lifespan can range from twelve to fifteen years, but this is not set in stone. Generally, smaller breeds live longer than large but it’s still not a hard and fast rule.

Beginning as a puppy, good care is essential with exercise, diet and of course, love. This gives your pup a good start for your whippet’s best life and longevity.

Twelve to fifteen years are average numbers for your whippet’s life. Again, excellent care, genetics and any underlying conditions can tip the scale either way.

Caring For An Old Whippet

Your whippet has been your best buddy for their whole life. One day you will notice a little stiffness and some silver in their fur. Your pup may slow down and sleep more. Don’t count them out.

When your whippet was a puppy, you accepted the responsibility to take care of them, good and bad. You handled all of the crazy, rambunctious world of a puppy.

Your whippet’s growing older does not have to be a challenge. Your pup can live his or her senior years very comfortably with some preparation.

Below are some tips for making your whippets senior years as comfortable and gratifying as possible.

Keeping Routine

As your whippet ages, try to keep your routine as familiar as you can. Mealtimes, play and exercise should be kept the same.

Your pup may not walk as far, or play as much, so you can scale back the time accordingly. If they have been used to doing certain things at certain times, suddenly stopping this may only confuse them.

how to care for your old whippet
Image: Dave Gershkoff

As long as they are up to the task and able to participate, keep them going with their everyday schedule.

As they age, many dogs develop cataracts or other eye conditions that may cause them to gradually lose their sight. Even though a sighthound, your whippet may not be seeing as well as they once had and eventually may be partially blind.

Don’t change anything around your house, like moving furniture or changing the placement of their food and water dishes. It can cause confusion as well as accidents.

Exercising

Check out your pup when walking or playing. If it seems as if some things require too much exertion, walk slower, take breaks and don’t travel as far. Take your pup’s cue.

If they are still up for long walks and rough play, keep it going. They’ll let you know when they’ve had enough. Also, make sure when exercising in cold weather that your whippet has a sweater or coat on so they don’t become chilled.

Veterinarian

Whippets are not too prone to many health conditions and overall have great genes, but during your whippets senior years, their veterinarian will be the go-to for advice and overseeing their overall health.

As a geriatric pup, whippets do have a few medical conditions that are common for them. Many whippets suffer from loss of hearing and sight as they age.

Other age-related issues are spinal cord problems, arthritis and cardiac disease. Very old whippets are often diagnosed with kidney failure and cancer, which are common in the very geriatric whippet.

Veterinarian visits are especially necessary and helpful to diagnose any medical conditions early as they have been for your whole whippet’s life.

Good care and prevention are keys for your whippet to have a long and healthy life. As they age, they should see their veterinarian at least every six months.

Bloodwork should be performed as well as any screenings to pick up on health problems so they can be remedied

or treated early before complications arise. They may be suffering from arthritis which can be helped with medication and gentle exercise.

Never hesitate to consult your veterinarian about any questions or concerns you have about your aging whippet.

Low Stress

Try to keep the stress level around your house lower for your elderly whippet. If their hearing is poor, avoid startling them especially with sudden loud noises.

If they get stressed about nail clipping or ear cleaning, do these things a little less often, if possible.

Bathroom Trips

You may find your whippet needs to go out more often and may also get to the door when it’s a little too late. Take your pup out more often and don’t wait for them to come and get you.

This can avoid accidents. Never scold or yell. They can’t help it and are confused and upset about their changing bodies.

Communication

If your pup cannot see or hear well anymore, try to use touch to communicate. Gently guide them if they are confused as to where you want them to go. Pet and hug them as much as you can. The healing power of touch can soothe them.

Safe Spot

Make sure your whippet has a nice area all their own, complete with bed and blanket. You may need to get them an orthopaedic bed or one that has more support to soothe their aching joints.

They may be sleeping more, so a nice warm comfortable spot in a quiet area without high traffic would be ideal.

Stairs

Pet stairs are a suggestion if your whippet can no longer jump up on the couch or bed. If they do lay on your bed, pet stairs may be a solution.

Old Whippet Diets

As your whippet ages, they may become more inactive and feeding them the same adult food they’ve eaten for years may cause them to gain weight.

Weight gain for anyone is not good but especially bad news for an elderly whippet. Being overweight can cause stress on joints, that may already have some arthritis.

This will cause pain. Other health issues can arise if your whippet becomes obese such as diabetes or heart disease. Being older, they will be unable to lose weight if they can’t exercise.

Your whippet still needs necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Speak with your veterinarian about changing your pup’s diet if you see some weight gain or even if your whippet is in the senior age group.

Senior food should be low calorie, high protein food. Your veterinarian will be able to point you in the right direction to exactly when your pup’s food should be changed and what kind of food to use.

With your veterinarian doing routine bloodwork, this will ensure your whippet gets the right food with the proper nutritional needs for him or her as you navigate this time in their life.

Other Considerations

As your whippet travels further into their senior years, they may have some changes in personality and become somewhat senile. They may sleep more often, get confused and may just stand and stare into space.

Keep your veterinarian apprised of these episodes. Many are just the natural process of ageing, while medication is available for other types of behaviour.

Hypothyroidism is quite common in whippets and can exhibit some of the same symptoms of senility. Have your veterinarian check for this, which is easily treated with medication.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, everyone ages; even our pets. We can’t stop time, which marches on for all of us. So, how to care for an old whippet is a big concern. When your whippet’s golden years arrive, be prepared, at least as prepared as you can be.

They may begin doing odd things they’ve never done before or if they’ve always been your couch potato buddy and may suddenly stop and opt for their bed instead. You are confused and so are they.

Don’t take this personally. Give them plenty of love and touch with lots of hugs. Be kind and gentle, enjoying this golden time you have together.

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