Caring For Your Senior Dog
Author: Joseph Sabol
Your dog may be feeling the effects of aging and you may not even realize it. Larger dogs age faster than smaller dogs, so even at 5 years old, your canine pal may be starting to slow down. I think we expect our dogs to always be the same playful, active pup we've always known, and 5 years old sounds so young. The truth is, even if we can't see obvious signs, things are going to start changing. All dogs, depending on size and breed, age differently but any dog by the age of 7 can be considered a senior.
So, other than a graying muzzle, how do you know if your pooch is feeling his age? The first thing you'll notice is that your dog is slower. He'll be slower when he runs to catch the ball, slower getting up the steps and slower getting up from his nap. A dogs metabolism slows as he ages, so he will be less active and require fewer calories.
As dogs get older, their hearing and eyesight start to fail, just like it does for us. This can cause them to startle more easily and consequently, they feel insecure. They may even react with aggression. In some cases senior dogs feel general anxiety, so things that never bothered them before may upset them. A dog that had no fear of thunderstorms may now be afraid. Your senior dog may now suffer from separation anxiety. Your dog may walk around in circles or seem disoriented. If your dog feels stressed or anxious, he may start whining, barking or even howling.
Aside from the anxiety and behavior issues, your senior canine pal, may develop arthritis, diabetes, bladder stones, or incontinence. Dental disease becomes a real issue with older dogs. Rotting or broken teeth can lead to infections and trouble eating. It is a good idea to take your dog for a thorough exam so your veterinarian can screen for signs of age related problems.
There are things you can do and ways you can help your pet as he ages. It's important to remember that just because he's slower, it doesn't mean he can't play. You just have to adjust the play to his level. Even an older dog needs regular exercise. If he shows a lack of interest in going for a walk, try something different. Put him in the car and drive to a new park for a walk. If your bigger dog has trouble getting in the car, you can get a ramp for him to get up and down.
If your pooch starts showing separation anxiety when you leave, don't make a big deal out of leaving or returning home. Make sure he has something to chew to occupy his mind and relieve stress. A toy designed for older chewers is good and you can stick a treat in it to make it more interesting. Make sure he is comfortable. You can get him an bed specially designed for dogs with arthritis. If you have to be gone all day, ask a neighbor or family member to come over and let your dog out and play with him for a while. This will help break up his day. Senior dogs feel stressed more easily, so avoid any major changes in his routine. This is not a good time to bring a new pet into the household.
Another thing you can do to help your dog through his senior years, is to give him a pet vitamin once a day. Make sure it is an all natural pet vitamin with no additives or fillers. A good quality pet vitamin can ease some of your dogs symptoms of aging. A vitamin with glucosamine and chondroitin supports joint health. An all natural vitamin will provide immune system support, aid in digestion and protect your dog against certain cancers.
The most important thing you can do for your pet is keep him an active part of your family. Be understanding of his changes and challenges. Continue to love your dog and care for him. Don't assume your dog is happy to be left behind to sleep all day, while the family life goes on around him. Your dog has loved you unconditionally all his or her life and now your family pet needs you to do the same.
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About the Author:
Joseph M. Sabol is a world class Doberman breeder. Please go to http://petvitamins4u.com or to http://theroadhousedobes.com for further information.