As dogs get older, they slow down and they need that little bit of extra care and attention. Just like humans, dogs feel the effects of growing old and often just like to wander around a garden, go for short walks and enjoy a nice comfortably warm spot to lie down and rest when they are at home. Making sure your pet is content in their senior years means taking the time to routinely check them over and to make sure they are happy and in good health.
Below are a few tips on how to make sure your loyal dog really enjoys their old age as comfortably as possible!
Older dogs suffer all the same aches and pains that people do as they get older. This includes conditions like rheumatism, arthritis and heart disease to name but three. However, an old dog may develop problems with their teeth and very often their claws need trimming more frequently simply because they run around less than they did when they were younger. If you don't like trimming their nails, you should ask a veterinary nurse to do this for you – or even a dog groomer but it has to be someone who knows how to trim a dog's nails professionally.
Organising regular health checks with your vet is a must, and this has to be at least twice a year. Should your dog be suffering from any health condition, you may need to take them to see the vet more often so you know if their illness has is under control or if it has got worse. If the vet finds there is a health issue developing, they will be able to advise you about any treatments that will ensure your old friend is comfortable and given the right sort of medication.
Having spent so long with your dog, you are the best judge when it comes to spotting any behavioural changes they might be showing. It's important to take note of behavioural changes in young dogs but more so when they get older. A change in behaviour could be a good indication that something may be wrong. You need to note down any changes which includes any of the following:
If you notice any changes in your dog's personality or any of the above, you should organise a visit to the vet for a health check-up as soon as you can so that if there is something going on, your vet will be able to prescribe the right sort of treatment to ensure your dog's life is as comfortable as possible.
Making life easier for an older dog is really important to their well being. It's perfectly normal for them to want to take things slower which means they might sleep more than a younger dog. However, if they are suffering from arthritis, you will need to make it easier for them to get around by giving the right type of prescribed medication.
Old dogs may find stairs are not as easy for them to go up and down. They may also need a helping hand when jumping up on things or getting into the car. If you have wooden floors, your old dog might find it a little too slippery, so think about all these things and try to find a easy solution that makes it easier for your dog to cope without hurting themselves.
Because an older dog will need less exercise than their younger counterparts, you need to sort out their dietary needs accordingly. They will need less food but it has to be the right sort. Some older dogs tend to put on weight, whereas others have real trouble keeping the weight on. You would need to discuss this with your vet to find out what sort of food would be best suited to your particular dog.
The other thing to think about is that certain diseases older dogs are prone to suffer from, may be affected by their diet. The food they eat might have a negative impact on their condition or it may help control it. Again, the best person to consult is the vet who is treating your dog, they would be able to advise you of all your pet's dietary needs for them to stay healthy and at their optimum weight.
You need to make sure your old dog has a nice comfortable bed to sleep on. Ideally, you should make sure they have a bed in a few places around the home, and it needs to be where they like spending time. So a comfy bed in the kitchen, one in the living room and one where they like to sleep at night is perfect. If you can buy a special orthopaedic bed for them to sleep on at night, then all the better, especially if they suffer from arthritis.
You also need to be prepared for a few “accidents” which are bound to happen. You should never tell an older dog off when they make a mess because the chances are they are not happy about the situation either! Some bitches tend to “leak” as they get older and you would need to discuss the problem with your vet. There are treatments you can give her which helps control this little problem, and they are very effective.
You also need to make sure your older dog has all the peace and quiet they need to lead a happy and contented life. Older dogs can have a problem with loud noises and much prefer a quiet corner of the house to wander sleep in and wander around when they want to. You need to avoid putting your dog in stressful situations that might have an adverse effect on their well being – especially if they have been diagnosed with some sort of heart condition.
If you are thinking about adopting an old dog from a rescue centre, then you need to be able to offer them a quiet, caring and loving home but you need to also be aware of their needs. These are very different to those of a younger dog. The great thing about being able to offer an old dog a home is you will know about any health conditions they may be suffering from because the rescue centre will have given them a full check up before re-homing them. Very often, you'll get help when it comes to paying for their treatments and medication which makes life a lot easier when it comes to deciding whether or not to offer an old dog a caring, loving home.
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