3) Decreased tolerance for exercise
- Due to decreased lung capacity, heart function and mobility, senior Shih Tzu will have a gradual slowing down in regard to duration and pace in regard to walks. If you typically take your adult for 2 mile walks, this will often decrease to 1 and 1/2 and then 1 over the course of a several years.
What to do
- As your Shih Tzu reaches his senior years, at the 9 and 10 year mark, start to really take notice of how he is handling his walks. If he has breathing problems
such as being out-of-breath or shows any other sort of intolerance, cut back by 1/4 miles or 10 minutes. Do continue to take him out (twice per day is best) and make adjustments as needed. Any wheezing, limping or other signs just as this should be reported to the veterinarian.
4) Increased sleep
- Both young puppies and senior dogs will sleep much more than adults. Senior Shih Tzu will often start napping more in the day as opposed to sleeping later, since they still want to join in once the family wakes up.
What to do
- It's really important that an older Shih Tzu has a high quality orthopedic bed that is made from top-of-the-line memory foam. This will help him recover from his day and provide the proper resting support that is needed for dogs with arthritis and other orthopedic issues commonly seen with seniors, which will allow him to get better sleep. You'll also want to ensure that his resting area provides a semi-private and removed from distracting noises and any foot traffic. Do, however, keep your older Shih Tzu within sight; most older dogs feel terribly isolated if they are not close to their human family members.
5) Loss of bladder and/or bowel control - Any sudden change with this should be reported to the vet as it can point to any number of issues including bladder infection, kidney disease and more. This said, seniors may have a gradual loss of control. This has nothing to do with housebreaking and attempting to re-train a senior dog is often done in vain. Rather, it is simply a matter of the dog having sudden urges coupled with decreased muscle control to hold it in.
What you can do:
Most seniors do best if they are taken outside much more often than their younger counterparts. If possible, even every hour or so is not too much. Nothing should be expected; rather it is just a change to urinate or eliminate if needed. Do keep in mind that older dogs tend to be constipated more often as well, so more time should be allowed for the dog to have a bowel movement.