As our pets grow older, they require different care from when they were young puppies. While witnessing the canine aging process can be difficult on pet owners, with proper treatment the lives of older pets can be extended. Listed here are tips for caring for elderly dogs.
As your dog reaches senior status (typically between 7 and 10 years old, depending on breed), a change in diet should be made. Just like in humans, canine metabolism slows with age. Also, like in humans, geriatric health problems can be exacerbated if the pet grows overweight or obese. Therefore, it is important to feed a high-quality senior formula that is lower in calories while still providing necessary nutrients.
Just because your senior dog has less energy does not mean exercise should stop completely. Walks and short runs will help your dog’s joints stay healthy by increasing circulation and ensuring your dog maintains a healthy weight. If arthritis has already taken hold, consider therapeutic exercise such as hydrotherapy, which can reduce pain while improving your dog’s condition. Us humans make sure we make time for our fitness routines, shouldn’t we do the same for our beloved furry family members?
As your dog’s mobility decreases, it is important to make adjustments around the house. If your dog can no longer jump onto furniture or into the car, consider purchasing specially-made canine steps. Place water bowls in each room of the house so that your dog does not have to go far in order to stay hydrated. If necessary, use a specially-designed harness that will assist the owner in helping a large dog up and down stairs.
Senior dogs will require more vigilant veterinary care to detect early signs of disease. Taking your senior dog for a routine vet visit every six months is recommended. They’ll complete a geriatric blood panel to watch for signs of thyroid disease, diabetes, cancer, or kidney and liver malfunction. You should also be more aware of symptoms of illness in your pet, such as refusal to eat or drink, vomiting, diarrhea, or general lethargy.
There are numerous supplements you can incorporate into your senior dog’s diet in order to improve its health. Joint supplements such as glucosamine/chondroitin can reduce pain caused by arthritis, as can coconut oil and gelatin. Additionally, many pet owners swear by the healing effects of turmeric, which has shown promise in reducing the size of cancerous tumors in conjunction with traditional therapy.
As your family dog grows older, it is also important to talk about it with your kids and explain how they can help care for them. Make a list of all pet-care responsibilities and talk with your children about which chores they feel they can handle. Give them easy daily chores and discuss why the chore is important. You can add a little fun by making this Chore Sticks: The Simple Chore System for Kids. Make sure all family members participate in chores and rotate those chores. But most importantly, always remember to serve as a role model to your kids.