It is important as an older dog owner to familiarize yourself with the signs of canine aging, health issues and how to help your four-legged friend live his golden years with comfort and happiness.
Mental Routine and Physical Therapy
You can help slowing down your dog’s natural aging process by providing him with a mental routine and physical therapy.
Your dog likes to be and play with you. Some activity will keep his mind sharp and will prevent him from becoming lethargic.
Massaging your dog will help with joint stiffness and improve his blood circulation…Not mentioning that he will love being touched and rubbed!
Blindness and Deafness
A bluish, hazy film on your dog’s eyes is normal and he can see through it. However, a whitish, heavy growth of cataracts can lead to blindness. You should learn the difference.
Because sight is not a dog’s primary sense (smell is), most dogs becoming blind will learn the land’s layout and will be just fine. Just remember not to move things around the house and yard.
Your dog’s hearing might diminish as he ages. He will start not responding to his name, verbal commands and will even bark for no reason.
Most are usually benign fatty tumors which are round, soft with well define edges. Any change in size or shape should be checked by your veterinarian.
Stiffness and Arthritis
These two conditions are very common in older dogs. Although there is no cure for them, treatments are widely available. Glucosamine Chondroitin supplements and anti-inflammatory medications will help considerably.
Make sure that your dog gets daily, light exercise, but moderate his play dates, as he could get painfully stiffed the next morning if he plays too rough with other dogs.
Do not let your dog get overweight as extra weight will add extreme stress on his joints. Feed him a well balanced diet, low-fat, containing vitamins and anti oxidants. If he shows difficulties bending while reaching his food or water, get him an elevated dog feeder which will help him tremendously. Such a feeder will relieve strain on his neck, shoulders and joints.
On the other hand, sudden weight loss could be a sign of internal problems. Make sure to check with your veterinarian.
Skin and Coat
Your older dog might get a duller coat and dryer skin. A daily dose of Omega 3 fish oil will keep his coat shiny and his skin healthy. Grooming and bathing on a regular basis is also a good idea.
Dogs can develop these conditions just like Humans (Alzheimer’s). 70% of 16 year old dogs become more disoriented, getting stuck in corners, starring into space. You can help your dog by guiding him and talking to him.
It is sometimes difficult to see our best friend going through all this, but we will grow old also. Kindness, understanding and love are the best therapies!
Catherine Simms is the owner of Whiner and Diner Pet accessories http://www.whineranddiner.net and enjoys writing about dog issues.