Aging dog deal with many of the same difficulties as aging people. Their joints start to stiffen and ache; their gait slows, and also they exhibit a lower level of energy compared to what they did as young pups. Older pets require a different type of care than their younger equals. Their diets and exercise habits should change to accommodate their bodies. They also require more frequent checkups to prevent the onset of medical issues.
If you have cared for your canine since he was a puppy, be prepared to help him make the transition into his twilight years. This article will present a few guidelines. We’ll describe what you can expect as your dog ages, and offer tips to ensure he remains as comfortable and healthy as possible.
What To Expect As Your Pet Grows Older
While every canine is different, most undergo the same set of changes as they become seniors. For example, they often sleep more and eat less. If you notice your pet’s appetite declines substantially, make an appointment with his veterinarian. There may be a medical problem.
Some older dogs tend to drink less water, and thus become more prone to dehydration. Check your pet’s water bowl each day to make sure he is drinking the same amount of water.
Another change aging canines undergo greater susceptibility to cold weather. This is likely due to slower blood flow and less activity. During colder months, take care to close windows to prevent drafts.
You might also notice that your dog seemingly ignores your calls and commands as he ages. This is usually due to a loss in hearing ability. Realize you’re a dog is unlikely to be ignoring you, and instead, may simply be unable to hear your voice.
Increase The Frequency Of Veterinary Checkups
During adulthood, your dog should receive annual checkups from a veterinarian. These checkups usually include physical, dental, and eye exams, along with an inspection of your pet’s coat and skin. The vet can test your canine for heartworms and other parasites, and conduct screening tests to check whether your dog suffers from any serious health problems.
As a senior canine, your pet should receive such checkups at least twice a year. This allows the veterinarian to detect medical conditions that can quickly affect your pet’s health. If any are found, the vet can recommend the best methods of treatment.
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Pay Attention To Your Aging Pet’s Weight
Even though canines tend to eat less food as they grow older, preventing weight gain remains a constant challenge. This is usually due to a decreased energy level; senior pets are far less active than puppies and adult dogs and burn fewer calories each day as a result. Consequently, it is not uncommon for aging canines to become obese.
Make sure your pet receives the nutrients he needs to remain healthy during his twilight years. While he needs fewer calories each day, fats and proteins remain important. So, too, does fiber to help with digestion.
Coping With Physical And Behavioral Issues
As mentioned earlier, many senior dogs cope with joint pain and limited mobility. You can improve your pet’s comfort by providing him with a moderate level of exercise and a warm place to sleep. Since jumping will likely be painful for him, consider buying a ramp that allows him to access elevated spaces (e.g. furniture, your vehicle’s interior, etc.) more easily.
Many aging canines also develop urinary incontinence. This can be baffling to owners since their pets were housetrained years earlier. Be patient and consult a veterinarian regarding whether medical treatment – typically, via medications – is warranted.
It is also common for senior pets to develop separation anxiety. Desensitization training plays a key role in helping your canine cope with your absence.
The takeaway is that caring properly for older dogs requires accommodating the physical and mental changes they experience. Doing so helps ensure your pet will remain happy and healthy throughout his senior years.