If your dog approaches their senior years, they may need more special care. Your aging dog may have health issues to deal with such as degenerative wear and tear on the joints, and nutritional requirements may change. Consider how you can enrich your senior dog's life by following these few simple tips.
1. Schedule More Frequent Veterinarian Checkups
As your pet ages, you will need to schedule frequent vet exams. Ask the vet about diagnostic tests to detect possible health problems before they escalate. An older dog will probably require a comprehensive exam at least twice per year, or more frequently if the animal has health issues.
During a comprehensive exam, the vet may suggest a blood count to detect illness or disease. In addition, a urinalysis may indicate kidney problems or diabetes. If your older dog begins to exhibit unusual behavior or health symptoms, tell the veterinarian during your visit.
2. Be Mindful of Diet and Exercise
As your dog ages, limit table food and high-calorie snacks. Ask your vet about treats that will not put on the pounds. Have your vet recommend a healthy diet for your senior dog.
Older dogs tend to become lazy or slow down with age. If your senior pet doesn't receive adequate exercise, he or she may become overweight. Obesity in senior dogs may lead to health problems. Encourage activity by taking your dog for a daily walk. If your pet does not have mobility issues, consider taking a swim with your dog.
Visit the dog park, where your pooch can have fun in the fresh air and see new sights and sounds. Your pet may also get to interact with other dogs, which can be stimulating and prevent boredom. If your dog enjoys toys, buy a few interactive dog toys that may keep your pet entertained and busy.
3. Keep Your Older Dog Comfortable
Senior pets are often prone to developing joint pain and stiffness or have difficulty climbing. You might want to invest in easy step-up pet stairs or a ramp. The dog stairs will help your pet climb onto the bed or couch more easily. In addition, consider buying your senior dog a therapeutic memory foam pet bed that helps ease the discomfort of achy joints or arthritis.
Be sure to place your dog's bed away from drafty spots and windows. Additionally, if you have hardwood floors, you might place a rug or slip-resistant runner on the floor to prevent your pet from slipping. Keeping your dog's toenails trimmed may help with mobility as well.
4. Care for Your Senior Dog's Teeth and Gums
Dental problems may occur as your dog advances in age. Always maintain good oral health for your senior canine companion. Try to brush your dog's teeth gently every day.
Ask the vet about specially designed dog toothbrushes. Only use canine formula toothpaste, and never use toothpaste made for humans. In addition to brushing your dog's teeth, offer dental chew treats which help remove plaque and tartar. Equally important, clean your dog's teeth periodically during your vet examination, typically on an annual basis.
5. Be Aware of Cognitive Changes Your Senior Dog May Develop
Just as humans face cognitive changes with age, canines may develop changes in behavior as they grow older. Your senior dog may bark for no apparent reason or seem confused or forgetful at times. Some senior dogs develop canine cognitive dysfunction, or CCD. Think of this as a canine equivalent of human dementia.
Your vet may evaluate your pet to determine if CCD is, in fact, an issue. If so, they may suggest a dietary change, or prescription medications may be a possible solution.
In conclusion, if you have concerns or questions regarding your senior pet's health and well-being, discuss this with your veterinarian.