As your dog ages, you will need to know about canine geriatric care. Older dogs have special needs. You will want to make these sunset years as comfortable as possible for your special friend.
Like a human, an aging dog may have mobility and balance challenges. The once sprightly puppy may begin to move slower and more tentatively. You can adapt your home to make it more friendly for your older dog. She may find jumping on a chair or bed more difficult. Look for pet stairs, which are available in pet stores. If those backyard steps are too steep, consider installing a ramp. You can also find adaptive equipment for your dog, such as a dog wheelchair or lift harness.
Diseases and Conditions
Your dog will be more susceptible to age related diseases and conditions. Arthritis and urinary incontinence are common in older dogs. Eyes diseases, such as macular degeneration and cataracts are also prevalent. Older dogs may also have cancer, liver disease and other serious conditions. Regular vet visits are more important now, as early detection and treatment often helps.
A geriatric dog can have a delicate digestion. Weight gain is also more prevalent with age. Many dog food brands have a senior formula that is especially designed for older dogs. It is more digestible and usually lower in calories. Be careful about suddenly changing your older pet's diet. Sudden changes can cause stomach upsets and diarrhea in a geriatric dog. Discuss your dog's diet with your vet for the best recommendations.
Dogs, like humans, can experience the deterioration of the senses. Older eyes are more prone to blindness through diseases or degeneration. Your dog may also become hard of hearing or even deaf. To make life more comfortable, don't move furniture around for the visually challenged dog. It will be easier for her to navigate through familiar layouts. Perfume on furniture can give her a scent clue as she approaches it. For hard of hearing dogs, train her with light cues instead of vocal commands. You can also use floor vibrations, such as foot stomping, as a communication tool. Most of all, be patient.
Your older dog still needs exercise, just not the same kind. Strenuous and rambunctious play is best left to the puppies. Short, slow walks are more for your senior canine. Regular gentle exercise will prevent obesity and is beneficial for the body, especially those arthritic joints.
Canine Geriatric Care at the End
When your dog reaches the end of her life, discuss your options with your vet. While no one wants to let a beloved friend go, you also don't want to extend suffering. There are many support groups online to help with grief over a pet. Reach out if you need help.
There is much you can do to make these older years full of love and memories. You can be aware of health issues in dogs, adapt your home and change the routine to make your pet's life better. In doing so, you may have more time to share with your special friend.