Thanks to scientific research, our furry friends can live longer than ever before. Studies have improved the quality of diet and veterinary care thus making our pets experience fewer challenges and conditions as they get older. What can you do to ensure that your senior dog’s life is comfortable?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, a six to seven-year-old dog is considered a senior pet. For small to medium breeds, this is the equivalent of the mid-40s in human years. For larger breeds, this is the early 50s.
Senior dogs can develop many physical problems that most human beings experience as they age. They include diabetes, heart disease, joint issues, weakness, and vision problems. Other noticeable behavioral changes include anxiety, confusion, increased vocalization, house soiling and changes in sleep cycles
For most seven-year-old seniors, they might strain to play their favorite games like catch. They might not have the strength to jump up to their favorite seat or hear you call for dinner. Here are a few great tips that will help you make your senior dog’s life comfortable.
Visit the vet more often
According to the American Animal Hospital Association, senior dogs need to visit the vet every six months. Early detection is critical for their age. Conducting wellness exams every six months is one of the best ways to keep your dog healthy. The vet will be able to conduct a full exam, looking for any lumps, listening to the dog’s heart, and evaluating eyesight and hearing.
Take note of your dog’s handicap
You might realize that your dog has started developing a couple of health issues of late. As a result, daily tasks might become dangerous.
According to Clayton Veterinary Associates, most senior dogs have decreased vision, hearing, and mobility. Therefore, it’s always important to ensure that their environment is safe. You should consider blocking off stairways and rearranging the house to avoid accidents and help your dog learn new safer pathways.
Slippery floors are dangerous for dogs with mobility issues. You can invest in carpet runners or rubber mats to enhance safety and comfort.
You should also remove large furniture items from the main paths to make it easier for a dog with impaired vision or mobility issues. Also, if your pet is small and has hearing problems, watch your step to avoid nasty falls for both of you.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
While you might be tempted to feed your dog anything that you find edible in your house, maintaining a balanced nutrition with quality ingredients is one of the best ways to demonstrate your love to them. Obesity shortens your dog’s lifespan and increases the risk of developing other complex diseases.
Excess weight strains the joints and heart. According to Dr. Morgan, fat cells produce hormones that cause inflammation. And this leads to pain and lethargy.
Instead of feeding your dog processed foods, go for whole foods. Food greatly affects emotions and behaviors. Some of the best whole foods include:
- Fish and egg yolks – rich in omega 3s
- Homemade bone broth – joint support and bone strength
- Probiotics and digestive enzymes – efficient uptake of nutrients
- Pumpkin – rich in fiber thus eliminating common bowel issues such as constipation
- Steamed vegetables such as kale, spinach, and broccoli to prevent anemia
Care for your dog’s aching joints
One common issue for senior dogs is arthritis. Apart from medications and supplements, there are other great ways to relieve pain.
According to Dr. Morgan, some pets will feel better if they are kept warm. Placing warm towels over sore joints can be soothing. Also, giving your dog a massage will keep the muscles soft and increase blood flow to the joints.
You should invest in comfy beds to make your senior dog happy. Choose one that will satisfy all your dog’s needs.
Keep your dog active
Slowing down is a natural age-related process. This means that you’ll need to coax your furry friend to exercise. A senior dog without good muscle tone will experience mobility problems. This is why pet physical therapy is critical. If you used to run or jog with your pet, a leisure stroll might be his speed now.
According to best essay writing service, taking a long walk with your dog will keep him happy and healthy. An active dog with ideal body weight is less likely to experience joint stiffness and inflammation. Mix different activities to stimulate his mind. Low impact exercises such as swimming are important for senior dogs.
Give your dog a social life
Dogs are social creatures. Don’t forget to put play dates on your calendar. If you are a busy person, consider hiring someone to look after your dog. Or, getting a younger active dog. Older dogs love spending time with young active dogs. You need to take the time to know what your dog loves in his new season of life.
Look after your dog’s teeth
Dog teeth become sensitive and prone to infection as they get old. Infected teeth can increase the risk of kidney and heart disease. If you have not been taking good care of your dog’s dental health up until now, your dog might suffer from loose and infected teeth. To avoid this, brush your dog’s teeth with a dog toothpaste every day. Dog dental products eliminate bacterial overload and this keeps your dog happy and healthy.
Take your dog out
Taking your senior pet for a short walk around the neighborhood or a car ride will help them feel special. You should consider increasing the number of family outings to keep your dog comfortable and happy. You can also take him to a dog training class. Even if he knows how to sit or lay down, he will have a good time interacting with other dogs and spending time with you.
Identify breed issues
Every breed is prone to various health conditions and diseases over time. Here are some of the top five breed-related issues:
- Golden retriever: More than 60 percent of Golden Retrievers get cancer. Also, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Rottweilers, Great Danes, German Shepherds, Labrador, and Boxers are susceptible to cancer.
- Boxers - cell tumors
- Cavalier Spaniels – cardiac disease
- Yorkies, Chihuahuas and toy poodles – periodontal diseases
- Pugs and bulldogs – Short airways lead to fatigue and surgical anesthesia complications.
Conducting extensive research on the common genetic disorders associated with your dog’s breed will help you take preventive measures as early as you can.
Dog grooming is essential
Grooming your dog regularly is important at this time of his life. Wash and brush him regularly to keep his coat well spread. As you clean him, check for cuts, bumps, irritation, or scrapes. Also, keep his hair in the potty area short to ensure that he is dry and clean.
Don’t grow distant from him
We all want to protect ourselves from pain. When a dog is growing older, it’s natural for us to try and protect ourselves from the pain of losing him by detaching from him emotionally.
Unfortunately, when this happens, your dog suffers the most. He will sense that you are pulling away. And he isn’t going to understand why. He will suffer. Remember, your dog needs you the most at this time of his life.
Continue touching and playing with him. Pat him as you walk together. Give him a massage when he’s sore. Make eye contact even if his vision is impaired. Remaining attached to your dog and loving him is important to his wellbeing.
Taking good care of your senior dog will help you tackle a lot of common problems easily. Visit the vet regularly, go for whole foods, and prioritize comfort. Most importantly, don’t give up on your dog. He has spent his entire life looking after you.
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