Even if your canine friend has been with you for years, in your eyes he/she will always remain as young as the first time you met. However, eventually, you will notice that your pet is panting a bit harder after a regular walk or struggles to climb onto your bed. That means it’s time you started adjusting to the lifestyle needs of an older dogs.
A dog’s lifespan and seniority largely depend on the breed. As a rule, smaller dogs such as Terriers, Chihuahuas, etc. reach their twilight years when they’re 10 or above, while larger breeds like a Great Dane will attain senior status as early as five years. Apart from size and breed, genetics, environment, and diet, all have an effect on a dog’s life expectancy.
Just as with the lives of people, modern medicine along with the right combination of attention and preventive care can extend the lives of dogs. So if you want your older dog to enjoy a long and happy life, consider adopting these steps into your pet care routine.
Monitor changes in general behavior; appetite; weight loss or gain; dental issues; and any lumps, bumps or lesions. Pay attention – keeping a journal is a great idea – and bring them to your vet’s attention.
Visit the vet more often. A checkup at least twice a year is a must. Aging pets benefit from more frequent visits. They may also need additional blood tests, dental care, and other examinations. Additionally, certain breeds are predisposed toward certain ailments, like hip dysplasia, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. Regular checks can help detect these before they turn into major problems.
Dental hygiene is of particular importance as your dog ages. Regular brushing and cleaning can prevent painful dental disease and decay. If your dog is averse to having his/her teeth brushed, consider dental toys or treats instead.
Monitor your dog’s diet. As they age, dogs often face issues with food, including lack of appetite, chewing, obesity and digestive difficulties. Consult your vet for the best diet and exercise plan for your aging friend. Changes might include adding more fiber to help digestion or reducing carbs to control weight. Glucosamine or fish oil can be supplemented to alleviate joint pain.
Make sure your dog’s both body and mind is active. Much like people, dogs also experience pain and have difficulty performing physical activities as they get older. In spite of this, exercise is imperative to their overall health and general well-being. Take your dog out on shorter gentle walks and monitor his/her gait and breathing to make sure nothing is amiss. Similarly, Your dog’s brain too needs plenty of exercise. Stimulating toys can help keep your dog’s mind stay sharp.
For dogs suffering from arthritis or joint issues, consider a special ramp or assistive steps so they can easily jump in the car or join you on the bed. Keep food and water in easily accessible areas, especially if they are vision-impaired. Heated bedding can soothe body pain, especially in colder regions.
All this may involve more work than you’re used to doing, but caring for a lifetime companion is a deeply rewarding experience. Your companion has been faithful to you for years—now’s the time to return it in kind!
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