It’s usually not too difficult to tell when your dog is getting on in years. They lose that bounce in their step, have a reduced appetite, spend more time sleeping, and require more frequent trips to the veterinarian. Weakness and recurring urinary tract problems may be present, as well as canine joint pain or arthritis. Although health problems are inevitable for older pets, you can take steps to make their golden years as comfortable as possible. This post is all about keeping your older dog safe, happy and comfortable.
As your dog ages, he will probably start to slow down. Much like people, dogs start to have a little less energy when they get older. There are normal dog behaviors that are associated with older age and then there are some warning signs you should watch for that can signal an aging dog needs extra care or a special trip to the vet.
- Not eating
- Extreme weight loss
- Extreme weight gain
- Lumps under his fur that are new
- Limping or dragging his hind legs
- Odd smell
These signs can require a trip to your vet for a complete exam. If your dog stops eating and also has an odd, bad (worse than usual) smell from his mouth he might have a rotten tooth that will need some attention. Your vet can help you make sense of the symptom by treating the cause.
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Maintaining a healthy diet can be tricky with an older pet. It might seem like a time to minimize how much you feed them every day, but in many cases, dogs actually require more protein than they did in their youth. As they grow older, it helps keep muscles lean and healthy, and it preserves their organ functions and immune system.
Remember that most dogs do best with high-quality foods that are optimized with their health and nutritional needs in mind.
Consult with your vet about what your pooch should be eating — if your pet has suddenly become a picky eater, there may be a healthy alternative that will keep them going without packing on the pounds.
If you are used to frequently filling up your pet’s food dish, start cutting back and using portion control. An older cat tends to be less active and doesn’t need as many calories, so go with low-fat protein foods. Don’t give up on exercise, which can lower the risk of health problems. Senior pets still need to move around, use their muscles, and keep the blood circulating.
Stress and Anxiety
As animals get older, they can often become more anxious and stressed out than they were in their younger days, which can often be brought on by loud noises or other pets. Fortunately, there are ways you can help alleviate these feelings, from removing or distancing your pet from the stressor or taking a trip to his/her vet to see if there is an unlying condition at work. Additionally, some pet owners have turned to CBD oil, which can possibly shown reduce stress and anxiety as well as help with skin issues and joint pain. Before selecting this as a pain management tool, do some research on CBD oil on.
The dosage and effectiveness tends to vary from product to product, and speak to your vet before beginning this treatment.
Dog Furniture and Accessories
Mobility will increasingly become a factor as your pet ages. An older dog that can’t zip up the stairs or hop on and off the couch anymore may require good pet stairs to make the climbing a little easier and reduce the chances of injury. If your older dog is even a little wobbly while trying to brave the stairs at home, it’s probably time to invest in a doggie (or kid) safety gate, which can be anchored to the wall and latched to the other side.
Getting a good dog bed, perhaps an orthopedic one, will be helpful to his sleeping patterns.
As your pet’s cognitive function and eyesight begin to decline, it is also wise to invest in a GPS tracker in the off chance he strays away from your house when your back is turned.
Old age doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about your furry friend having accidents in the house anymore.
Incontinence is a common problem among older pets. So, pay close attention to the warning signs; for example, if your pet is agitated or restless, make sure they get outside as quickly as possible to avoid unwanted deposits. You may also consider trying dog diapers with absorbent pads. Just be sure to change the diaper frequently, since urine can cause skin irritation.
Old age is a bad time to unexpectedly change the furniture on your older dog.
Try not to make other substantial changes to your pet’s living space. Even a slight loss of vision could cause them to bump into something hard or pointy, or step on something sharp, so try to leave everything as-is.
Keep your older dog’s walking path unobstructed. Also, be sure to minimize the clutter, which will benefit everyone. If you make some open space, your dog will appreciate having room to move around and not minimize risk of walking into something, bumping into a wall or accidentally knocking things over. All of this can add stress to you and your pet. A loud sound of something he might unintentionally run into that sends it crashing to the ground will make him feel bad and scare you both! A nice organized, clean and clear space will be helpful.
Aging can be a comfortable process for your older dog. Be sure you know which diet is best for your dog or cat, and be prepared to optimize their environment to ensure their safety. With the right care and focus to detail, your older dog can enjoy his golden years.
Kritter Kommunity Contributor