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How to Care for Your Older Jack Russell

Picture of an older Jack Russell Terrier

If you share your life with a Jack Russell, you have come to expect the unexpected. Most people are drawn to the breed for their comical ways. A breed that can be both sweet and intensely loyal, the Jack Russell has an independent streak that can land him in all kinds of unusual situations. A dog with energy to spare, you’ve no doubt spent much time meeting the exercise needs of your “Jack.” That’s why when your best canine pal’s eyesight starts to dim and there is a little less spring in his step, you take it so hard. Still, at an age when most breeds would be considered well into their elderly years, there is lots of life left in the Jack Russell. Your pooch might be taking things at a little slower pace, but he’s not ready to give up on his raucous adventures just yet. When your Jack Russell reaches his senior years, he will require some additional care to keep him healthy and strong.

Top Care Tips for Senior “Jacks”

Jack Russells enjoy excellent longevity with many living as long as 19-21 years! However, most often; a Jack Russell will begin to slow down around age 12. During this time, your dog will still want to enjoy life with you but may lack the endurance to keep up with what has become his established daily exercise routine. Each dog is highly individual, so let your dog be your guide as to what amendments you need to make to keep your dog on the path of good health.

Here are some things you can do to help give your aging Jack Russell excellent quality of life in his senior years:

1Feed a high quality diet formulated for seniors.

Since senior Jack Russells are often not as active as they were in their youth, it is important to switch to a diet that is lower in calories and protein to help prevent weight gain. Older dogs also lack the ability to efficiently process high protein foods, putting excess stress on the kidneys and liver. A high quality diet for senior dogs is the best choice to meet all of your dog’s nutritional needs. 

2Schedule wellness exams every six months or more often if necessary.

Every dog should see their veterinarian for a wellness exam once yearly to keep them in optimal health and to detect any changes which may indicate illness or disease. This becomes even more important in the aging Jack Russell. Wellness exams every six months will help you and your vet to monitor any signs of decline in your Jack Russell and to treat them accordingly.

Since Jack Russells are a highly active breed, it is possible that during the senior years, your dog may exhibit signs of pain from arthritis. Your vet can prescribe a medication which will help to alleviate any discomfort or pain and increase your dog’s desire to continue to be active, a vital component of maintaining good health.

Veterinary visits should include at least one full geriatric blood panel and urinalysis yearly as a diagnostic tool. Blood work is the simplest and most effective method for early detection of disease. Identifying potential health problems early is key to treating them and to providing the best quality of life. 

3Keep rowdy children or pets away from your senior when resting.

Older dogs need to rest more. Even extremely docile elderly pets can become irritable when jostled during their nap time, but more than that, roughhousing near the senior can lead to injury for your older Jack. Give your Jack Russell a quiet space that is free from intrusion where he can relax and catch up on his zzzz’s.

Ensure your dog has comfortable and clean bedding to rest in. Old joints and bones get achy, so you want to be sure your dog has a soft place to lay. 

4Consider giving your healthy oils and/or supplements.

Proper joint health is an important component of keeping your older Jack Russell feeling good. The addition of a canine Omega 3 oil helps to lubricate joints and is excellent for skin and hair which can become dry, dull, and damaged in old age.

Glucosamine Chondroitin is another excellent supplement which assists with joint function and can safely be added to your dog’s diet.

For best results, consult your veterinarian as to which products and dosages are correct for your Jack Russell.

5Keep an eye on teeth.

As dogs age, their teeth can begin to cause them pain, particularly if there is any buildup of tartar along the gumline or teeth. Periodontal disease can lead to early death for dogs if left untreated. Veterinarians recommend regular dentals for all dogs to remove accumulated plaque and prevent infection. From time to time, extractions may be necessary to alleviate any pain from rotten teeth.

6Ensure your dog has access to lots of clean drinking water.

Keeping your Jack Russell’s hydration levels up are an important part of keeping him healthy. However, drinking too much water could be an indication of the presence of such diseases as Cushing’s Disease, thyroid issues, Diabetes, or renal failure. Carefully observe your dog’s water intake. Should you find he is drinking considerably more than usual, it may be time to visit your veterinarian to have a blood panel run to ensure all is normal.

7Reduce your dog’s activity schedule accordingly.

When your Jack Russell begins to slow down, it is time to reduce their activity level. In the early senior years, your Jack will still have the desire to go on regular outings, so simply reduce the duration and increase the frequency if your dog still likes to be active.

8Keep your dog warm.

Elderly dogs are more likely to succumb to a chill. If your Jack Russell will tolerate it, you can put a sweater on him to help keep him warm. If he’s a cantankerous old sort about being cuted up, consider purchasing a heated bed or placing his dog bed closer to the fireplace or heater to help keep the chill at bay.

Got a senior Jack Russell?

The senior years can still be filled with lots of adventure and fun! Follow our top tips to keep your Jack Russell in excellent health. You’ll be glad you did!

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