This post is featured on behalf of Jenna Brown.
They are called senior dogs, elder dogs or just simply “the old one.” Yes, dog aging is a factor in owning a canine that owners face with various degrees of tenderness and sophistication.
Owning an older dog can be expensive, what with special diets, trips to the veterinarian, medications and supplements. You might have to put a ramp in your home if you cannot lift your dog up the steps or put carpeting to prevent the dog from slipping and possibly breaking a bone in the process.
Older dogs suffer from skin rashes, eye problems, urinary tract issues, hip dysplasia, tooth decay, arthritis, weight gain or loss and even dementia, just to name a few of the possibilities.
Your 10-minute walk in the morning might turn into 20 to accommodate the slow walk of your aging friend or the general difficulties seniors have going to the bathroom. Like having an aging parent around, an older dog can be time-consuming, as well as costly.
Here are a few things to think about for your aging BFF:
1. Pain Issues
As we’re starting to age into our later twenties and early thirties, you don’t need to be told that at some point in your life you wake up and find that a part of your body you hadn’t known existed suddenly hurts. One day, it aches over here; the next day, it aches over there. The next day a brand new pain comes along.
Furthermore, you will find that increased pain does for your dog just what it does for you: It increases your general level of anxiety. It is worrisome to be in pain, no matter who you are.
Ask your veterinarian about what you can do to help your in-pain dog. The correct diet could help, as could medications.
You could also try a holistic approach, such as hemp supplements for dogs, which can help with several symptoms at once. Marijuana dog treats, or hemp supplements, can decrease pain, increase your dog’s appetite and reduce anxiety at the same time. (Hence the word “holistic,” which implies treatment of whole systems rather than one symptom at a time.)
2. Dental Care
Dog owners should be brushing their dog’s teeth from the start, but few of them do. In their elder years, however, dogs develop serious teeth issues that include broken or worn down teeth, missing teeth and gum sores.
They need daily brushing if for no other reason than to keep their kisses fresh smelling, which means you will give them more hugs.
3. Sleep Issues
Older dogs tend to sleep even more than younger dogs and they tire out more quickly. Expect less romping about, although some play is still important to an older dog. I mean, what’s life worth without a chew stick – am I right?
However, make sure your elder dog has a soft bed they can call their own – and one that doesn’t require leaping or climbing to get into it. In short, have pity on those old elbows and tired hips. Let your dog sleep in comfort in their autumn years.
4. Urinary Tract Problems
Yes, this includes lack of bladder control, which means you could end up with messes all over the house, compliments of a dog that had been fully trained and obedient with bathroom habits for most of its life.
Like caring for an infant or a senior citizen, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and work harder at maintaining your lifestyle than you did without the chores that come with caring for others.
In so many words, you might need to walk your dog more frequently. You can also limit water supply at various times while making sure that you are not depriving your dog of necessary fluids. You could put the dog’s bed in the bathroom, where accidents are easier to clean up.
Your veterinarian will also have suggestions on what to do about dog incontinence. Dietary changes might help. Medications might also solve the problem.
5. More Vet Visits
Expect to make more frequent trips to the veterinarian, making at least an annual check-up as a minimum response to your dog’s advancing years.
Remember, different breeds age at different speeds. Smaller dogs age slower than larger breeds – a 10-year old Chihuahua is approximately 55 human years old, while a 10-year old Great Dane is more like 65.
No matter how old a beloved pet gets, we want to make sure their quality of life is as good as we can make it. Dealing with these issues on a proactive basis can minimize their impact on your dog and your lifestyle.