As with humans, our dogs go through many changes over the years. The body, the bones and all other major parts seem to get weak. Nothing works quite the same anymore and they may start moving slower and experience aches and pains.
As the pet parent, we do our best to make our dogs live a comfortable and happy life. Most often a dog is considered a senior by age seven though larger dogs may mature more quickly. Not only does the appetite change, so does the energy level of your senior dog. Also affected may be the organs, eyesight and hearing.
There are certain conditions more prevalent in your senior dog. Many are afflicted with arthritis as your dog may have difficulty jumping up or moving around very quickly. Your veterinarian can sometimes prescribe something to make your dog more comfortable in daily life and activities.
Gum disease is so very important to your dog’s health. Periodontal disease can be very serious to fatal. Be sure to check the gums for inflammation and abnormal coloring. Regular brushing of your dog’s teeth and providing daily/weekly dental products such as dental bones will help to ward off the onset of gum disease.
Heart disease affects many dogs of all ages but the senior dog is especially more prone to this debilitating condition. If you notice some heavy coughing, shortness of breath, rapid breathing and possible fainting spells, get your dog to the veterinarian immediately. If caught in early stages there are medications that your vet can prescribe to help your dog live a longer, normal life.
Skin disorders is something dog owners may have to battle all along due to many factors such as sun, wind, heat, cold, parasites and other internal diseases. When dogs get older they are even more susceptible to a skin disorder more often due to dry skin conditions. Regularly brushing your dog stimulates the natural oils of the skin and routine grooming helps to keep the coat and skin in optimum condition throughout their life.
A touchy subject for me as an older woman is urinary incontinence. Older dogs, just as humans, have problems with urinary incontinence. Over the years, the muscles of the urinary tract get weak and the dog can lose control. It can also be a problem due to a nervous condition and either way, call your veterinarian if your dog is having accidents in the house.
Your dog’s dietary needs can change over the years as well. When a dog gets older, their energy level changes, metabolism changes, they are more sedentary and need less food and calories. Speak with your veterinarian as to the dietary changes necessary to meet your dog’s new nutritional needs.
For further reading and reference in the care of your senior dog, go to http://www.peteducation.com/category.cfm?c=2+1650 or this info at http://www.canismajor.com/dog/older.html.
We love our dogs from the time we bring them home into our family unit and vow to do all we can to provide them the longest, happiest and lovable life as best we can. They love us unconditionally. Let’s do all we can to return that love and care through their senior years.