How To Care For A Senior Dog

how-to-care-for-senior-dogWhy do dogs have such a relatively short life span when compared to humans? It’s like the Universe said “Well, since you little fuzzy guys have such big, loving hearts, we’re gonna give you a short life”. I know, sounds a little dark, right? I’m not trying to be a Debbie downer, it’s just I firmly believe no animal I have ever come across is as sweet and awesome as a dog.

Like us, our beloved pups can, and most likely will develop some of the same ailments and conditions as their human counterparts. These may included arthritis, diabetes, heart and kidney disease, and dental disease, just to name a few. So like us, they need annual vet checks to prevent and possibly identify any problems early.

I watched my beloved golden mix Sammy grow up. I got him at just 5 weeks old and had him until he passed in my arms at the ripe old age of 15. He was more than my pet, he was my FAMILY, just like a son. Watching him deteriorate over the years with significant arthritis of the knees, back, and hips, as well as almost constant skin infections was heartbreaking to say the least. He was my first dog and I really didn’t have much of a clue, and it haunts me still to this day of the things I could have done better.

Arthritis and Joint Pain

Arthritis and the joint pain that typically goes along with it is quite common in dogs. There is no cure for arthritis but there are medications that may provide some relief. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are a good option that your vet may want to try and supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin may be helpful. It is suggested that omega-3 fatty acids as a food supplement may reduce inflammation that causes the joint pain. In addition to medication, a nice soft bed or blankets can offer your dog a comfortable place to rest his painful joints. Another issue for arthritic dogs is climbing stairs, jumping up on the couch, or getting in and out of the car. Pet ramps and staircase gates would be a good option to help with these activities.

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Dental Disease

Another common ailment in dogs is periodontal disease and it can begin while they are still young. It is an infection or inflammation of the gums that can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss, as well as a myriad of other health conditions as the bacteria from the decaying teeth travel to other parts of the body. Regular tooth brushing or washing of the teeth and yearly dental cleaning from your veterinarian can help to keep those chompers in tiptop shape.

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Hearing and Vision Loss

Like us, our dogs can experience hearing and/or vision loss in their senior years. If you notice Fido ignoring you when you call or he can’t quite catch that Frisbee like he used to, a trip to your veterinarian may be in order. It could just be due to the aging process, but it would be a good idea to rule out other issues such as infections in the ears or cataracts in the eyes. If indeed your pup is just having normal loss due to age, especially with vision loss, it is imperative that you do not rearrange the furniture as your dog could very easily harm themselves by running into them or other objects just as we would.

Changes in Weight

Again just like us, as we age we can tend to either gain or lose weight. This could be caused by Fido’s decreased level of activity and mobility issues such as the arthritis mentioned above. Your veterinarian can determine what the cause may be for the change in weight. It may be an easy fix by adding supplements or vitamins to their food or a specialized diet prescribed by your veterinarian. It is important to keep their weight as close to ideal as possible due to the mobility issues that so many senior dogs face, as extra weight can put a strain on their joints.

Senior Dogs Rock!

Keeping an eye on our senior dogs and trying to decipher what is going on can be troublesome, but aren’t they worth it? They offer so much love how can we not do all we can for them in their golden years. Love and kiss those gray faces, keep playing with them, and don’t forget plenty of belly rubs! Have a pawsome day!

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