If you’re a dog owner, no doubt your dog is part of the family. As your dog gets older, he or she may have needs that were not present when younger. Old dog care is an important part of your dog’s life as he or she approaches the senior years.
Different breeds of dogs age at different rates, and oftentimes, those who are “mutts” are in general hardier than purebred breeds. However, no matter the breed, at some point, a dog is going to exhibit signs of aging, and you have to be ready for this so that your beloved pet can receive the care required for an older dog.
Just like human medicine, veterinary medicine has made great strides in geriatric care, so that our pets can live longer than they ever have before. With a little bit of effort, you can provide your old dog care suitable for your faithful companion, so that he or she has a comfortable and pleasant old age.
The Aging Process
Some signs you may notice that show Fido is showing his age may include: sleeping more; eating less; being startled by noises, bright lights, or lots of activity; not coming immediately when you call (may indicate hearing loss or physical difficulties such as arthritis); a duller coat; skin with less elasticity; eyes that are not as bright or may be clouded (including the possibility of cataracts); or loss of bladder or bowel control in a dog that was previously well housetrained.
Keeping Your Senior Dog Comfy
You can provide proper old dog care so that your senior dog remains comfortable in his or her old age.
First, most dogs know, for example, that they should not be having accidents in the house. Therefore, make sure that you are soothing and comforting if your geriatric dog should happen to have an accident in the house. This is not a time to punish, because the dog is already going to feel that he or she did something very wrong. Instead, provide a comfortable spot for your old dog to lie on that’s easily washable, such as a bed or comfortable rug. That way, if an accident happens, it’s easily cleaned up. If your dog must stay out of places, such as a favorite room, where accidents simply can’t happen, use a baby gate to keep him out of that particular spot.
Second, old dog care should include regular veterinary visits to make sure your dog is up on his or her shots, and that everything is being done to make sure he or she remains healthy. One of the most important things you can do for your dog is to make sure that his or her teeth are clean and healthy. Get your dog’s teeth cleaned on a regular basis if necessary. Not only does an unhealthy mouth cause things like gingivitis, soreness, or tooth loss, but it can actually also cause other systemic problems like heart problems and arthritis.
Third, make sure you provide the proper diet for your dog. Your veterinarian can give you proper foods that are more appropriate for older digestive systems, as well as for dogs with such problems as kidney failure, heart failure, or for those who have trouble chewing.
Fourth, make sure your dog stays safe. As hearing and eyesight fail, and as coordination becomes less trustworthy, your pet may have trouble with things like stairs, and can actually fall and injure himself. Strategically placed baby gates by stairs can help ensure that your dog doesn’t take a tumble.
Fifth and finally, make sure you provide lots and lots of love to your aging pet as part of your old dog care. Remember that your pet is the same loving dog he or she always has been, with just a little more gray hair and a little less agility. Shower him or her with lots of attention just as you always have, so that he or she still feels like part of the family.