September 23, 2010

Caring for an Elderly Dog

Filed under: Dog health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:42 am

canine arthritis As your dog ages, his needs tend to change.  Young puppies need a lot of exercise and even different nutrition than older dogs.  Moreover, as your dog’s age advances, he will likely suffer from one or many conditions, like arthritis or cataracts, which require special care.  Still, even if your elderly dog is starting to slow down, you can help him live his final years happily and healthily through regular veterinary visits, pet medications, proper nutrition, and daily pet health care.

First, you need to take some time to understand the changes your dog may be facing.  Caring for an elderly dog offers special challenges as your dog may be suffering hearing or vision loss, incontinence, changes in appetite and thirst, weight gain, decreased energy, and even stiffness in joints.  All these changes obviously have an impact on your dog’s quality of life and to keep them in check you’ll need to have regular visits with your veterinarian.  Regular pet health check-ups are especially important when you are caring for an elderly dog because you also have to be vigilant about possible life threatening conditions.

elderly dog careStill, aside from regular vet visits, you need to make some changes at home as well.  Nutrition is particularly important and you should look for a dog food that has been specifically formulated for senior dogs.  Likewise, your dog will still need plenty of exercise but your expectations should change.  Speak to your veterinarian about the best exercise program for your dog, especially if your dog suffers from arthritis.  Dogs with arthritis certainly benefit from regular exercise but high impact programs are not recommended.  Moreover, exercise that involves climbing may not be ideal for your dog.  There are dog pain relief medications for arthritic dogs, make sure you speak to your veterinarian about dog pain medications that will help with your dogs arthritic pain.

Finally, try to understand that like elderly humans, elderly dogs experience some psychological changes as a result of their aging.  Be sensitive and patient and always attempt to provide your dog with loving support.

About Dr. Amber Reed

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