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How to Care for an Aging Dog

Cane Bay Summerville - Aging DogThere is no bond quite so strong as the one that is formed when you raise a dog from his first few weeks of life until the later years of his life. The relationship is built on the basis of love, companionship and loyalty that cannot always be found in other humans.

That is why, when it comes to the health of our aging dogs, we want to make sure we are caring for them as best as we can. After all, they have cared for us and have seen us through tragedies and triumphs, joy and grief.

When man’s best friend becomes a senior, we want him to be as comfortable and as healthy as possible.

Below are a few tips on how to care for an aging dog.

1. Make Regular Vet Appointments

Senior dogs may be more susceptible to health problems such as arthritis, dental disease, kidney disease, liver disease and heart disease. Scheduling a check-up with your vet once or twice a year is important for maintaining a dog’s health in his senior years. Veterinarians are the most qualified to catch and treat the early onset of these diseases.

Your veterinarian will also be able to tell you if your dog is at a healthy weight or not. Some of the diseases listed above cause weight loss, where as older, tired and more inactive dogs are prone to weight gain.

Scheduling vet visits are important for maintaining your dog’s overall well-being.

2. Make Necessary Adjustments Around The House

Dogs that develop certain health issues in their later years, such as arthritis or blindness, may benefit from special accommodations around the house.

For example, our dog, a 13-year-old miniature schnauzer, has developed arthritis and he has a hard time maintaining his balance on our hard wood floors. In order to help him move around the house, we have placed carpets on the ground so he can better keep his footing and balance. A dog that is losing his vision might benefit from having sharp objects low to the ground covered up, so he does not walk into something that has the potential of harming him.

It is best to speak with your vet about the most effective accommodations for your dog based on his individual health needs.

3. Engage In Moderate Exercise

Exercising is important in a dog’s old age. Particularly because dogs tend to be more inactive as they increase in years, partaking in an exercise regimen at the right level for your dog is important and healthy.

However, because animals lose energy as they become senior pets, it is also important not to over do it. Exercising helps keep a dog’s joint and muscle health in good shape. If you are unsure how much exercise your particular dog should be receiving, you can ask your pet’s veterinarian.

4. Change Food If Necessary

Some pooches begin to have a hard time swallowing or digesting their food as they age. It can become increasingly difficult for them to eat the food they ate as a puppy, such as hard kibble.

If this is the case, it may be in your pet’s best interest to change the type of food he eats. Again, it is always wise to ask your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet.

5. Be Careful With Changing Temperatures

Make sure your furry friend is not getting too much time outside in the extreme cold or heat. Changes in temperature tend to affect dogs in their old age more severely than young pups. This is because of their changes in metabolism, according to veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman, as stated on NPR.

When sending your senior dog outside in the cold, make sure he either has thick fur, or lend him some type of coat as a means of keeping warm. In the summer when the heat is sweltering and the humidity is high, make sure your dog doesn’t stay outside too long. There is also the risk that your dog can become dehydrated if he stays outside too long on a hot day.

Senior pets are just as important and precious as young pups. Hopefully, you found some of the information useful so you can continue caring for your pet in the most effective way possible.

If you enjoyed our article, feel free to share it with your friends so they can learn how to care for an aging dog, too. 

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