Our pets are living longer than ever thanks to improvements in veterinary medicine and better owner care. The American Veterinary Medical Association has a chart to help you determine when your dog is considered elderly. Here are four tips to keep senior dogs happy and healthy into their golden years.
Schedule Regular Vet Visits
Your veterinarian can help you prepare for age-related illness and conditions. Ask your vet if there are specific concerns for your dog’s breed associated with aging. Visit your vet at least once a year for a check-up. Regular visits to an animal hospital will assure that any issues are caught and addressed quickly.
Practice Weight Management
Overweight dogs have higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Arthritis and joint problems can be aggravated by extra weight. Ask your veterinarian about the type and amount of food that is appropriate for your dog. Regular exercise can also help in maintaining a healthy weight. Older dogs may not be up to long hikes, but short walks around the block or in the park can help them maintain mobility and keep their weight under control. Start slowly and work up to higher intensity exercise gradually.
Practice Preventative Dental Care
Dental disease is a serious problem for many older pets. Tartar build up can cause gingivitis, which can cause bacteria to get into the bloodstream, causing serious health problems. Make regular brushing with special dog toothbrush and toothpaste a part of your routine. Most dogs accept brushing and even find the tasty toothpaste a treat. Once a year, have your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned by your vet. Regular preventative dental care can save your dog from painful tooth and gum problems.
Make Special Accommodations
Older pets with arthritis or decreased mobility may need help climbing stairs or getting up onto high places. Ramps can make it easier for them to get into cars or up and down stairs. Steps can assure you can snuggle with your pet on your couch or bed. Special beds and soft bedding can be more comfortable for dogs with arthritis. Rugs and carpeting on hard floors can make it easier for your dog to get around and not slide on slick surfaces.
It may seem like there are many things to think about in having a senior dog, but for a little extra care and attention, you will be rewarded with your dog’s love and devotion for many years to come.