Senior Dogs Have Special Needs

August 8, 2012

As our dogs get older, we must be aware of their changing needs.  Just as people slow down with age, so do dogs.  Fido’s joints stiffen; his digestive system changes, and he doesn’t adapt as easily to environmental changes in his life.

Pay close attention to your dog’s diet.  Older dogs benefit from the healthiest food designed for senior dogs that you can afford.  Be sure his treats are also healthy and easy to chew.

Many older dogs struggle with temperature changes.  If your home is air conditioned, make sure Fido has a comfortable bed away from air vents or fans, so that he isn’t subjected to drafts.

Does your home have tile or wood floors?  If so, Fido may find it difficult to navigate those slippery floors.  Placing non-skid carpet runners around the rooms will help him to get around safely.  Be sure to keep his nails trimmed because if they grow too long, walking on tile or wood floors will be difficult.

Dogs can suffer from canine dementia.  Watch for cognitive changes and seek veterinary help, if your dog exhibits signs of mental impairment.

Older dogs need more frequent trips to the vet.  It will be much easier for him or her to clear up any problems in a senior animal if treatment is begun early.  Plus, if the vet is familiar with the animal, any recent changes will be easily recognized.

Finally, be sure to give your senior dog plenty of attention and affection.  It’s too easy to forget he’s around, if he spends hours sleeping in an out-of-the-way room.  That may be his choice, but you do need to talk to him, shower him with affection, encourage daily walks – no matter how slow or how short – and let him know he is still a valued member of the family.

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