Probably the hardest part of being a dog owner is seeing your fur buddy age and grow old. While Jack Russell’s are young, they are energetic and playful, which explains why they have their origins in fox hunting. But with time, their age starts to affect them negatively.
As a dog owner, you try to do all in your means to ensure that they live a healthy and peaceful life, but you cannot fight with their age. However, you can provide and care for them in a certain way once your Jack Russell reaches a certain age. A proper lifestyle ensures that their aging process is not uncomfortable or painful for them.
In this article, we will help you in establishing a routine for your senior Jack Russell so they can spend their remaining life in peace. Apart from the care tips, we will also talk about the signs that indicate that your fur baby is not a baby anymore and about the illnesses and problems they will face once they reach a certain age.
At what age is Jack Russell becoming a senior?
The average lifespan of a healthy Jack Russell is somewhere between 13 to 16 years, though some have been reported to live longer too. The record age that has ever known is 25 years, belonging to Yentl, a Jack Russell from Somerset, Britain.
Since they do not show any prominent signs of aging, no one can ever pinpoint the exact year when their dog starts to grow old. As Jack Russell’s are a small breed of dog, they stop growing at a younger age compared to other dogs. In around only a year, a Jack Russell is fully mature and can be considered as an ‘adult.’
See also: How Long Do Jack Russell Terriers Live?
Jack Russells start showing minor signs of aging after around ten years of age. This is when you can begin to consider them as ‘senior.’ Some might show quick signs of aging, and some might show none at all, so you have to be vigilant. Also, most Jack Russells often stay active even when they are old, but with a hint of gentleness.
Signs of Jack Russell is getting old
The signs that your Jack Russell is growing old are usually very mild, to the point that they are sometimes even hard to notice. Other times, they might be over the top prominent, as according to Jack Russell Terrier of mine, these signs depend upon ‘genetic predisposition, physiological characteristics, lifestyle and diet of Jack.’
In most cases, the only signs of aging that your Jack Russell exhibits are tiredness and lethargy. Your Jack Russell no longer runs to you when they see you after you are back from a long day at work, they are no longer willing to play fetch, and they no longer respond to their favorite treats like the way they used to. Instead, all they want to do is to curl up in their favorite chair or a warm, sunny spot in the house.
This tiredness and lethargy are often hard to spot, as you are always unsure of its cause. Is your Jack Russell tired because they are growing old, or are they tired because they spend too much time playing outdoors? Hence, to make the search for the cause easier, there are certain other factors too that you should look into.
For starters, the red spots on your Jack Russell will start to fade as they grow old. By ‘fade,’ we do not imply that the marks would disappear, but they will start losing the intensity of their color.
Apart from this, you will begin noticing grey hair on the muzzle. The eyes of your Jack Russell will always look hazy and untidy, even if you buy all sorts of products to clean them. Also, their skin will become dry and lose its elasticity, leading to excessive itching.
Not only will aging affect your Jack Russell’s ability to run swiftly, but it will also affect their ability to listen to the slightest of the sounds. You will have to call them a couple of times for them to realize that you had been calling their name all along. But this is not a point to worry about, as most Jack Russell’s often compensate their reduced hearing with increased vision and sense of smell.
When you start noticing these signs of aging in your Jack Russell, it is natural to panic and worry. However, it is better that instead of dreading over their old age approaching, you talk to their vet and come up with a routine that makes their years of seniority easy.
Also, you should incorporate healthy changes, such as a correction of diet, a revision of daily exercise, and a more focused control towards your Jack Russell’s health.
What illnesses are Jack Russells prone to in their old age? (Jack Russell’s old age problems)
Generally, Jack Russells are considered to be an active, playful, and healthy breed. But like humans, age wears them out too. Their immune system becomes compromised, exposing them to several diseases.
However, if Jack Russell had an athletic life overall, the probability of these diseases affecting them is very low. But, we would still mention all the possibilities, just as a caution, so you can stay wary of them.
Like humans, Jack Russells also develop arthritis as they grow old. This happens because their ligaments lose elasticity, leading to joint issues, which slows and pains their everyday movement.
If you did not care about your Jack Russell’s oral health in their early life, they start losing their teeth quite quickly. Not only does it make it difficult for them to chew and grind food, but it also exposes their gums to bacterial infections.
With age, your Jack Russell’s physical activity reduces. They are no longer excited about playing and running and are also not very keen on exercising, leading to a gain in weight and, in some cases, obesity too.
Deafness and Blindness
Deafness and blindness is a common occurrence in senior Jack Russells. It could be partial or complete, or sometimes it could even be your dog’s unwillingness to respond to you, because of low energy levels.
With age, the level of insulin in your Jack Russell’s body begins to drop significantly. This causes them to develop diabetes, which you can identify by a loss in appetite, weight, and physical activity.
Since epilepsy directly targets your Jack Russell’s central nervous system, they become increasingly sensitive. They start showing signs of abnormal behavior and, in some cases, seizures too.
Wobbler Syndrome is a neurological disease that causes your Jack Russell to shake uncontrollably. Though this shaking may not happen all the time, it happens enough for you to notice and take relevant action.
Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS)
CDS is a disease like arthritis, but while arthritis is for the bones and joints, this is for memory. With age, your Jack Russell starts losing memory, awareness, and perception. They complete a full circle and start acting like a puppy all over again.
How to treat Jack Russell Terrier’s old age problems / Care tips
When your Jack Russell reaches a specific age, they are accustomed to a particular lifestyle too. When you try to bring changes in that lifestyle, they become uneasy and even aggressive at times. With all the changes going on within themselves, they are not ready for any changes in their environment. Hence, any change in their lifestyle should be gradual, instead of sudden, in order to make them comfortable at all times.
Monitor their diet
At this point in their life, your Jack Russell is highly susceptible to weight gain and obesity due to reduced exercise and increased rest. Therefore, give them food in moderation, and no matter how much they convince you to overfeed them with those pitiful eyes, do not go overboard with the treats!
Shift to low-intensity exercises
Since arthritis and joint pains are a regular in your Jack Russell’s life, now is not the time for running and fetching. Instead, shift towards slow and leisurely walks. Ensure that you do not start canceling their exercises altogether, as reduced physical activity can increase weight.
Take care of hygiene
Bacterial infections are common when hygiene is not under proper care. Continue cleaning their teeth, claws, ears, and hair, probably with even more attention and detail, to ensure that they do not succumb to any bacteria and viruses.
Improve the sleeping place
Age makes a Jack Russell highly sensitive to temperature. They start feeling cold more easily, so ensure that their sleeping place is warm enough for them to comfortably have a good night’s sleep. Also, while it should be warm enough, it should not overheat them, so take care of this too!
Limit the contact
If you introduce new people or dogs to your Jack Russell at this point in their life, they will be confused instead of excited. Hence, it is best to stick their social circle to the people and dogs they are familiar and comfortable with.
Regular visits to the vet
There is no alternative to a visit to the vet, so ensure that you do this regularly. Get your Jack Russell vaccinated against infectious diseases, as now their immune system is compromised and does not work to the best of its ability.
Give them love and attention
A dog is a dog, after all. All Jack Russells look for is your love and attention, especially when they are vulnerable and old. Shower them with your tenderness and grace them with your presence, as nothing ever makes them happier than spending some time with you!