Older Dog - How to Keep Your Older Dog Healthy
A dog's breed and size determine when it becomes a senior pet, and even though there is nothing you can do to prevent your best friend from getting older, there are several things you can do to help it stay active and healthy for as long as possible:
1. Keep a close eye on the health of your older dog
- Take your senior dog to the vet regularly. It is crucial for an older dog to get regular medical attention and check-ups, at least once every six months. Your dog may need to undergo blood tests, X-rays, electrocardiograms, ultrasound, CAT scans, or MRIs.
Be ready to tell the vet about any changes, no matter how small, on your older dog's energy level, appetite, or behavior; tell the vet when the change started and what you think could have caused it.
- Check your dog's hearing and eyesight. Cloudy eyes are normal on an older dog, and this may be nothing serious; nevertheless, a senior dog may also develop cataracts and glaucoma, or suffer from hearing loss.
If you surprise your older dog when you approach it, if it bumps into objects, or doesn't respond to your call, it may be losing its hearing ability.
2. Groom your older dog frequently
- Brush your dog's teeth every day. This will prevent its teeth from decaying and will also inhibit gum disease and tooth loss. As you brush your older dog's teeth, you should look for early-stage mouth and tongue ulcers.
- Be attentive to an increase in bad breath. There are the natural smells that come with dogs, and the normal breath smells that are produced by the remains of food, but, if your older dog shows a change towards a much stronger and foul breath, this could mean it is getting sick.
- Bathe and groom your older dog once a week. An older dog must be kept free of fleas and other parasites, because it is not capable of grooming itself as it used to. While brushing it, notice any bumps, skin lesions, or abnormal hair loss, and be careful, because its skin is not as elastic anymore, and you may scratch or pull it. Clip its nails to ensure its balance is good.
- Massage your dog's joints and limbs. Your older dog will not be able to exercise regularly, thus, you have to improve its flexibility and circulation through soft massages to its muscles and joints.
3. Maintain your older dog active
- Present your older dog with moderate exercise. Your senior dog needs to keep its muscle tone, its heart, its digestion, and its attitude healthy, and mild exercise does the trick. You may develop walking and swimming routines, as well as gentle games to keep it in shape and alert.
- Allow your older dog repeated bathroom breaks. Its digestion may become irregular as it ages, and its bladder may lose elasticity and capacity.
- Respect a regular routine. Your older dog will really appreciate if you stick to a routine. By all means, feed it and walk it at the same time every day.
- Reduce stress to the minimum. An older dog may not easily welcome unknown animals or people, and may become irritated with children. Since it may be losing its senses, may get arthritic or forgetful, your older dog may not like to mingle with your guests, friends or family, anymore.
- Train it with word and hand commands. In this way, your older dog will understand you in the event it loses its hearing or seeing faculties.
4. Help your older dog eat and sleep well
- Never leave your older dog outside by itself. Its place is inside your home, and it should spend less and less time outside, because it will become sensitive to temperature changes that will affect its aging lungs and heart.
Also, since it is not as sharp as it used to be, your older dog may easily get hurt or lost outside.
- Get it a soft bed. An older dog finds it more difficult to sleep well because of arthritis, elbow calluses, and other ailments, thus, get it an orthopedic bed to increase its comfort.
- Feed it well. Your older dog may gain weight fast because of its slow metabolism; thus, get it food high in fiber and low in fat. When its digestion deteriorates, offer it smaller, but more frequent, meals. Your older dog will need a special diet if it has diabetes, arthritis, or heart or liver conditions.
- Always give it fresh, cool water. This is vital for dogs at any age, but especially for an older dog.
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We are a website devoted to give you all the relevant information you need to properly take care of an older dog. Here, you will find articles, resources, and important information about many relevant topics, like older dog food, older dog arthritis, older dog supplements, older dog allergies, older dog medications, older dog rescue groups, and pet insurance.
In our website you can comment, post, and share your experiences and knowledge in regards to the care of your older dog. We encourage you to check our forums, and to start sharing with other older dog owners.
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We are here for you, so that you can be there for your four-legged pal!