An Aging Friend: A Complete Guide To Taking Care of An Old Dog
If there were one companion humans cannot live without, it would be dogs. Dogs are with us through thick and thin, offering us unconditional love. And when they reach the end of their lives, we have to be beside them. Packaged Facts reports that 47% of American dog owners have a dog that is 7 years or older. Therefore, we must learn to take better care of them.
In this article, we will discuss some of the things you need to keep in mind to take care of an aging dog.
Keep Up With Veterinary Check-Ups
Take your dog to the vet at least once a year for a checkup. This should help prevent any serious problems from developing later on. The vet will check for signs of illness and treat minor issues if needed, but more importantly, he or she can also help you understand how to best care for your dog as it ages. If you have any questions about why something is happening with your pet, ask the veterinarian about it.
Along with allergies and infections, which can develop at any point in a dog’s life, dogs develop osteoarthritis at this stage. It weakens their joints, making it harder for them to move around and making them more susceptible to injuries. A vet would typically prescribe Rimadyl for this, but treatments may vary depending on the specific situation.
Rimadyl is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that relieves pain and inflammation. Make sure you ask your vet about the correct dosage of Rimadyl for your dog.
Since dogs can’t talk, it is important to keep yourself informed about the sort of problem your dog might be having. While internet research will help you with this, nothing beats a good old visit to the doctor.
Watch Their Diet
In general, you should feed your dog three meals per day. They’ll be more likely to eat their food if it’s offered in multiple small portions. You can also give them a few treats throughout the day as a reward for good behavior or as a way of helping to keep them from feeling hungry between meals.
American Kennel Club notes that, unlike popular belief, older dogs generally require 50% more protein than normal dogs to maintain muscle mass. Therefore you should never restrict protein in their diet. You also need to keep the health of their organs in mind while preparing the diet and add supplements where necessary.
Lastly, remember that older dogs have weaker jaws and teeth. Therefore your need to make sure that the food your offer is something they can actually eat.
Keep Them Exercising
Exercise is important for all dogs, but when it comes to older dogs, it is essential. Exercise can help with weight control, arthritis, and cognitive function. It can also make the dog feel happier and more confident.
You should take your aging dog out for short walks or play fetch in the house regularly to keep them active. If your dog has difficulty walking or running because of joint problems, you can gently exercise them by leading them around the yard on long leashes while they walk alongside you.
Keep Them Mentally Stimulated
You should provide your dog with new toys and games regularly. This could be as simple as getting a new chew toy or a ball to fetch, but you can also try puzzles, puzzle toys, and Kongs. These will give them something different to do each day, which keeps their mind active and healthy. Even if they’re too old to play outside with the kids or other dogs, they can still enjoy some time in the yard now and then.
Veterinarian.org recommends some simple ways to keep your dog mentally stimulated, and some of those methods apply to older dogs as well. You can give them a puzzle toy so they have to use their brain to play with it.
You can also try to teach them the names of their toys. They will not be speaking it, but they can learn to identify it. You can also make them work by designing a simple treasure hunt with their treats.
Provide Them With A Comfortable Environment
As your dog ages, it becomes more critical to provide them with a comfortable environment.
Keep them out of drafts and extreme heat or cold. This can cause arthritis and other health issues to flare up, which will make their lives harder in the long run. Keep them out of direct sunlight for long periods as well. The heat from the sun can also be very damaging to older dogs’ skin as well as their joints.
Cleanliness is important for any dog owner but especially so when caring for an aging pet. Dogs are sensitive to their environment as it is, but if factor in an aging dog’s weaker immune system, an unclean environment can mean serious trouble. It can lead to a ton of health crises, including allergies, infections, irritations, etc.
Clean your dog’s bed regularly. Clean any other place where they might spend a long time. Also, make sure you groom them regularly. This includes bathing them, brushing them, and clipping their nails.
Keep Up To Date With Vaccination
Vaccination is one of the most important things you can do to prevent your dog from getting sick. Vaccinations are shots that help protect your dog against serious diseases like rabies and distemper, which can be deadly if left untreated. They’re given either once or twice a year, depending on what kind of vaccine you get for your pet.
To protect yourself and others from disease, you must keep up with vaccination schedules. It’s also helpful if you know how to administer the shots yourself, especially if there’s no one else who can take care of this task for you.
Cloverfield Animal Hospital writes that much like human vaccines, animal vaccines also have a certain lifespan. Once that lifespan is over, the dog is again susceptible to dangerous diseases. That is why it is recommended that even older dogs continue to receive their vaccination but under supervision from a vet.
And there, you have everything you need to know about taking care of an aging dog. We hope that this guide has given you the confidence to provide the best care for your old hound and keep them happy and healthy well into its golden years.