Old age is not a disease
Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, changing care and healthier eating, dogs live much longer and healthier than before. But, like humans, they feel the effects of time. Perhaps you have begun to notice that your dog once so full of life seems to work a little in slow motion. By being aware of the natural changes that occur in your aging dog and knowing how to help him live healthy, active, and avoid unnecessary discomforts, you can together enjoy fully his last years.
How - and when - will I know that my dog is "aging"?
There are gradual changes in the aging dog that are very similar to those that occur in humans: it can begin to gray, it becomes less agile and its reflexes are less sharpened than before. Its hearing, sight and smell can deteriorate and its energy may decrease. It seems to lack concentration. In fact, the general decline in activity is often the first sign of aging. The animal tends to sleep longer and deeper. These signs can begin to manifest before the age of 8 in large dogs, such as the Great Dane, while the smallest can remain alert up to 12 years, and sometimes even longer. In addition, a healthy dog will tend to age less quickly than a dog who has been sick or has been in poor conditions when young. Again, as in humans, the process of aging varies among individuals. Your veterinarian will be able to judge when your companion will be considered "old".
Annual visits to the veterinarian: twice a year
When your dog begins to get old, it is more important than ever to have it checked regularly by the veterinarian. In fact, at this stage of life, a complete examination is recommended every 6 months, as the adult dog can age from 3 years (in "human" years) in one year. In addition to the physical examination, the veterinarian may find it necessary to carry out certain analyzes. Many veterinarians recommend that annual blood tests be performed for older dogs in order to be able to detect early problems that could become worse over time.
An informed veterinarian is worth two
It is important to inform your veterinarian of any changes you have noticed in the physical condition or behavior of your dog. So a problem that you simply believed related to the advanced age of your pet might rather be the sign of a health condition that can be treated. For example, if your dog is reluctant to exercise, this is not necessarily caused by the normal energy drop that accompanies old age. It may be arthritis or a heart problem that is involved. However, these two states can be treated or controlled. By seeing your pet twice a year, the veterinarian will be able to design a prevention program and spot problems early enough to administer an effective treatment. Your veterinarian and you can make sure your dog lives its last healthy and happy years.
To Your Dog's Health
The dog's nutritional needs may also change with age. So, you may notice that your dog is gaining weight even if he eats less. This could be due to a slowing down of its metabolism or a decrease in activity. Excess weight can aggravate a large number of health problems including heart, respiratory tract, skin and joints. To help your chubby dog lose weight, try to give it smaller portions or gradually move it to a less calorie diet. Other dogs have the opposite problem: they lose weight as they age. This weight loss is sometimes due to a heart problem, periodontal disease or diabetes. Anyway, your veterinarian can tell you about your dog's nutritional needs.
Comfort on the menu
You must ensure that your dog is comfortable eating. Most owners place food and water bowls on the ground, which can be uncomfortable for a large or obese dog. The arthritic dog may experience pain when he leans. Many pet shops sell special tables with cut-out shapes to accommodate the bowls of the animal. They are available in various heights to suit dogs of all sizes. You can also make yourself a cheap device, for example, a plastic case covered with a towel to absorb the damage.
Feeding Your Old Dog: Things To Do And Not To Do
Your veterinarian may recommend you older dog food brands that suit your companion.
Consult your veterinarian to find out if you should increase the amount of fiber in your pet's diet, especially if it is often constipated.
Do not give snacks to your dog or table scraps.
10 Health Tips For Older Dogs
- Have your dog checked by the veterinarian twice a year.
- Learn about diseases that commonly affect older dogs. Be alert and tell the veterinarian any worrying symptoms from the onset.
- Give your dog the most appropriate food to his condition, as advised by the veterinarian. Consider giving him two small meals rather than one big one.
- Do not overeat; Obesity causes many health problems and can shorten the life of your dog.
- Ask your veterinarian if you should give your companion supplements, such as glucosamine or chondroitin, if your dog has arthritis.
- Have your dog exercise, depending on his physical abilities.
- Make sure your dog's dental health. Follow the advice of your veterinarian if he recommends a professional cleaning called "scaling" or regular brushing.
- Ask your veterinarian to assess the risk of illness to which your dog is exposed in order to determine which vaccination program suits him best.
- Do your best to protect your companion from ticks and fleas and make sure his living environment (eg, his basket, his playground) and him are always meticulously clean.
- Give him a lot of love and attention and do everything possible to keep him alert, active, happy and healthy.