Mia loved being a small town dog. She trained her owners well so they would eventually be ready for another four legged family member after her work here was done. If Mia stared long enough at the cookie jar with the embossed paw print resting upon the kitchen counter, her humans knew to give her a treat. When it was time for a trail walk, Mia would pull Colin through the garage so he would remember to pocket a few poop bags from his stash. Should a wet nose and a long snout find its way under Anna’s relaxed hand, that meant it was time to pet the dog. Mia easily trained her human family members, and shared 16 happy years filled with treats, trail walks, and hustled pet sessions.
A full year passed without a dog at home when Colin and Anna — a healthy, sharp couple in their early 80’s — heard the story of Domino. A few states away, 12 year old Domino was living with a widow who was moving to a facility that did not allow dogs. A rescue intervened to give Domino a second chance, which is an understated challenge for senior dogs. Hundreds of miles and several phone calls later, Domino and a foster volunteer arrived to meet Colin and Anna to determine if this permanent placement was suitable.
It proved to be a great fit! Domino presented himself as a well-mannered, mature, and healthy mutt. Colin and Anna passed, too, courtesy of the additional training Mia provided during her final years. Their thorough understanding that senior dogs require special care gave the rescue group complete confidence in placing Domino with them. Here are five helpful tips Colin and Anna shared during their interview with the rescue.
1. Vet Visits
Older dogs require more frequent visits to the veterinarian. The vet will assess the pet’s weight, examine the teeth, hips, and thyroid performance, and prescribe medications to maintain or even improve the quality of life.
2. Keep Your Dog Comfy
Comfort is important to senior dogs. Avoid sore joints by adding extra padding or towels to the dog bed. This will provide higher quality sleep during nap time.
3. Check in on Your Pet
Going to dinner and movie? Make sure someone can let the dog out while you are gone. In older humans and dogs, the bladder loses its elasticity and consequently its ability to hold large urine amounts over long durations. A visitor during your absence can help prevent an indoor puddle.
4. Support a Healthy Diet
Dietary changes and supplements are important, too. Most dog foods available offer a formula catered to senior dogs to support joint health, digestion and eyesight. Look for foods enriched with glucosamine chondroitin and beta carotene. Also consider fish oil supplements.
5. Cater to Your Dog’s Needs
Getting to the vet can be a chore if your dog can no longer jump into the car, or if that leap causes the dog physical discomfort. Put the fun back into car adventures by having a step stool or small step ladder on hand.
These tips are easy to implement. We are very grateful that Colin and Anna shared Mia and Domino’s stories, as their experiences will help us be better caregivers when our dogs become seniors. Following these steps with patience and love can turn our pets' golden years into their great years.
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