Caring for Aging Dogs and Pets

The last time I went to the vet, when they were talking about anesthetizing me before doing my dental, the veterinarian mentioned something about not giving me an anesthesia that made me sleep as long as they give younger dogs....that made me feel old. It is my birthday month this month, I was born in March of 1999, so I am going to be 9. If you believe that old saying that each year of a dogs life is like 7 human years, I'm older than my owners now, 63?? but smaller dogs do tend to live a little longer, and I KNOW I have a lot more energy than my owners do!

They'll soon need the following article, but I'm not ready to admit they need it now.

(The above was written years ago as if it were my Yorkie, Aspen talking. As you may know, Aspen did cross the rainbow bridge, she was 14, but we are leaving this as "she wrote it".)

Caring for Your Aging Dog

By: Lisa Pallardy

The changes your dog goes through as he ages are natural and are, in fact, very similar to those same changes we humans experience.

For instance, with aging, your dog's activity level slows. Without mental stimulation to keep him sharp, an aging dog may become slow and lethargic and his appetite may change.

Your older dog may begin to have "accidents" in the house with little or no warning, again for no known medical reason. An older dog's sleep cycle changes too, and he may begin to sleep more during the day and less at night.

As your dog ages, expect his interaction with you (and other family members) to begin to diminish -- he'll greet you less enthusiastically (or not at all); he'll follow you less (if at all); and he'll rarely seek your attention.

A dog's mobility becomes reduced as he ages and he might become more aggressive.

Don't be surprised if your older dog appears confused or disoriented. Some older dogs actually exhibit symptoms very similar to human Alzheimer's disease, and suffer short-term memory loss, changes in behavior, and just a general slow-down in their thought process.

What can you do to help your aging friend? One place to start is your dog's diet. Check with his veterinarian and make changes to your dog's diet according to his medical needs. Small, more frequent meals are best. Keep his weight down, too. There are many low-calorie commercial foods available. That extra weight is not only unhealthy for Fido, but it makes it harder on his joints. An overweight dog has trouble with mobility, and this is only complicated with age.

Brush your dog frequently. This helps stimulate his circulation. Be sure your dog is getting enough exercise, and adjust your walking schedule to allow for more frequent, shorter walks. And be sure to allow him to do his business after each meal, just before bedtime, and first thing in the morning to reduce accidents. As your dog ages, it's more important than ever to provide him with a warm, comfortable place to sleep.

Keep in mind that many aging symptoms are similar to symptoms of a sick dog, so it's important to have your dog examined by his veterinarian at least two times a year to rule out any illness.

Author Claire Bessant has written one of the best books I've seen on caring for an older dog. It's called How to Give Your Dog a Longer and Healthier Life: Complete Owner's Guide to Caring for the Older Dog.

Updated 10/13/15

Article by:

Lisa Pallardy who was the owner of two blogs that were formerly connected to this article. Perhaps one day she will find us and tell us if she has a new website or blog.

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