Time is as inexorable for dogs as it is for humans, and even more so, because dogs have a much shorter life span. A decent dog owner sees his or her dog live its life to the fullest – from boisterous puppyhood up until placid adulthood and the last breath. And dogs wear down with age, both physically and mentally, just as humans do. As your dog ages, it faces health issues and therefore needs special care.
There is no telling when exactly your dog enters twilight, because it depends on the breed, size, general health, etc. However, there are common signs, by which you can tell that your dog is well past the middle point. It walks where it used to run, strides where it used to leap, and it feels like having gone for a cross-country race after but a regular walk around the block. Now it is time to go to a vet and outline a new strategy.
What problems do senior dogs face?
As a dog ages, it becomes susceptible to a whole bunch of illnesses. These include degenerative rheumatic diseases, dental and digestion issues, heart failure, respiratory dysfunctions, vision problems, kidney/liver disorders, hypoglycemia, and more. Dogs tend to be less active in older age and often gain weight. Many of the diseases mentioned above result from weight issues.
On the other hand, senior dogs may stop eating well due to tooth decay. This may result in sudden weight loss. Lack of nutrition dulls the immune system and makes them vulnerable to parasites and infections. Many vital organs (lungs, heart, liver, etc.) stop functioning properly.
Many senior dogs, especially females, develop bladder issues. Urethra deteriorates with age and stops closing properly, causing urine to leak.
Old dogs may develop a condition similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. They suddenly feel confused, stop reacting to commands, lose concentration, or have difficulty finding you in the park.
Change vet check pattern!
If your dog has turned seven years old or so, it is advisable to double the amount of vet checks per year. Generally, senior dogs require procedures similar to those administered for younger dogs. However, professional vets advise additional blood tests, heart checks, and dental care, because many serious chronic diseases do not show any symptoms at the initial stage.
Immune system inevitably deteriorates with age. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative that you check your dog for ticks, fleas, worms, and infections on a regular basis.
Feed your dog properly!
There are a number of diets specially formulated for senior dogs. You can choose one based on how your four-legged friend is doing. For example, if it shows proneness to obesity, you can choose a menu consisting of low-calorie meals. If your dog is losing weight, another pattern may be required. Before changing your dog’s diet, you must identify the cause of the change. This requires a professional veterinary examination.
No matter how old your dog is, it needs your love and care. There are plenty of ways to make it feel young again. Do not miss a chance to walk and exercise for as long as it can handle. Enjoy every little moment of life and focus on the brightest side of it!