Different breeds and sizes of dogs will age at different rates and many consider “Mutts” hardier than purebred breeds. However, no matter what the breed or size, at some point a dog will exhibit signs of aging. Start preparing yourself early on and be observant to any changes in your dog’s health, mood or behavior patterns.
Like human medicine, veterinary medicine has made great strides in geriatric care allowing our pets to live longer than ever before. The key is to recognize any problems as early on as possible and talk with your Veterinarian.
The Aging Process
Some noticeable signs of aging might include: sleeping more; eating less; being startled by noises, bright lights, or lots of activity; not coming immediately when you call (may indicate hearing loss or physical difficulties such as arthritis); a duller coat; skin with less elasticity; eyes that are not as bright or may be clouded (including the possibility of cataracts); or loss of bladder or bowel control.
Keeping Your Senior Dog Comfy
At times, caring for your older dog might require patience. Providing old dog care really isn’t much different than caring for an aging person. They too may lose their hearing, forget where they are and become easily startled. Be patient and kind while making every effort to keep your best friend comfortable in his or her old age.
Another problem that many aging dogs face is incontinence. Leaking most often happens when the dog is sleeping and he is completely unaware of it. However, there is help for dogs and owners that are dealing with canine incontinence.
Responsible dog care at any age includes include routine veterinary visits and exams. Your dog’s Veterinarian will regularly check your dog’s teeth and gums for any signs of plaque, decay and other problems. Like people, healthy teeth and gums are equally as important for our canine friends and their overall health. Lack of oral care can cause other systemic problems like heart disease and arthritis.
It can not be emphasized enough that good health starts with diet for both people and our pets. A healthy diet should start the day you bring your dog home. By providing healthy and nourishing food early on, your dog will naturally develop a strong immune system protecting him from disease.
As your dog ages, take notice to his hearing and eyesight. Be aware that his coordination may become less trustworthy causing difficulty with stairs or just getting around. Strategically placed baby gates can ensure that your dog doesn’t take a tumble or hurt himself.
Finally, make sure you provide lots and lots of love to your aging pet as part of your old dog care. Remember that your pet is the same loving dog he or she has always been, with just a little more gray hair and a little less agility. Shower him or her with lots of attention just as you always have, so that he or she still feels like part of the family.