Old Dog Sleeping
Creative Commons License photo credit: mikecogh

The size and breed of your dog is a determining factor of their age.  Most dogs reach “old age” around seven years.  As dogs age, their minds and bodies change.  Their metabolism and immune systems slow down just like humans’ do.  They may have arthritis which can slow them down and their vision and hearing may be impaired.  Bladder and bowel control can also become a problem.  Senior dogs may be less active and may not want to play as much as they use to.  They can also be irritable around little kids and other dogs.

There are things that you should do for your older dog.  You should have him checked by your vet at least once a year and depending on your dog, a six month checkup might be recommended.  Your older dog’s liver, kidneys and pancreas might need to be checked by drawing blood.  Signs of heart disease can be detected by an electrocardiogram and tests can be administered to check vision and hearing.

Your aging dog probably does not need as much food to maintain his weight as he did when he was younger.  You should probably change your senior dog to a geriatric or senior diet.  These kinds of foods contain nutrients that are easy to digest.  The fats are limited in these foods in order to prevent obesity and gastrointestinal upsets.  Make sure your older dog always has plenty of water because it is easier for senior dogs to become dehydrated.

You should brush your older dog regularly to keep his coat and skin from becoming dry.  You will also be able to detect lumps, tumors, or other abnormalities.  If you find lumps, tumors, or abnormalities you should always ask your vet about them.

Dental care is also important for your aging dog.  If you have an older dog, you might have noticed that he has lost a tooth and he might have bad breath.  Heart disease can develop from tooth decay so it is important to brush your dog’s teeth and keep them free of tartar.

As your dog ages, you might notice that he doesn’t hear you as well.  This is probably because he has developed some hearing problems.  You can still communicate with your dog even though he might not be able to hear you as well as he use to.  Communication through hand signals and touch will always work.

Not only can an older dog’s hearing deteriorate, but so can their vision.  If your dog is having problems seeing, you can help him by maintaining a consistent environment for him.  Make sure that you keep the furniture and his toys in the same place.  If your rearrange the furniture and move his toys it will confuse him.  This could cause more stress on your dog which could make his condition worse.

Your aging dog is the same dog you brought home with you as a puppy.  He is just older.  You still need to spend a lot of time with him.  He needs you to pay attention to him and love him.  He still loves you!  Take good care of your aging dog.  His life is precious and he needs you.

Filed under: Caring For Your Senior Dog

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