The beautiful, bright eyed, over-active puppy you brought home about seven years ago, is now entering a new phase of his life. Welcome to the senior dog years!
Senior dogs go through changes just as they did in their puppy years. Remember when you patiently (for the most part) cleaned up his potty accidents, taught him not to jump on visitors and walk beside you (not several blocks ahead) on a leash? Well, now there may again be potty accidents due to forgetfulness or the fact that his bladder and bowels cannot hold it so well any longer. More frequent bathroom breaks may be in order. Remember, your senior dog does not want to disappoint you. He just is not able to wait.
He probably long ago learned not to jump up on people but now he may also have trouble jumping up onto the porch, into the car or onto the bed. And stairs may be slow or impossible to climb. Old bones and tired muscles are now in control. Consider putting carpet or treads on your steps. Ramps are available for porches, decks, cars and beds. And nutritional supplements can help to ease the arthritis achiness he is feeling. Your Vet may also prescribe an arthritis medication. A supplement that is working well for our fifteen year old senior dog is Glucosamine Chondroitin. Short frequent walks with your senior dog helps to keep his joints limber.
Health Symptoms to Watch for in Your Senior Dog:
* Sudden lethargic behavior
* Cloudy eyes
* Not seeming to hear you when called
* Slowness in movement or limping
While many of these changes are a normal part of aging, if the symptoms appear suddenly or are very pronounced, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. It could be a sign of a serious ailment that needs medical treatment.
Help your senior dog enjoy a healthy, happy retirement:
* Exercise your senior dog with short , frequent walks and gentle, stimulating play.
* Change to a good quality senior formula dog food.
* Avoid giving too many treats or overfeeding to help prevent extra weight on his old bones.
* Consider helpful aids like dog ramps, quality padded and heated beds, add nutritional supplements to his diet.
* Hopefully you have already established a relationship with a good veterinarian that knows your dog. Now is the time to step up the visits to at least twice a year so your vet. can give your senior dog a physical assessment, checking for lumps and any other warning signs that may signal a need for further tests or treatment.
* Keep your senior dog groomed, bathed, nails clipped and ears cleaned to help him feel refreshed. He may not think he likes a bath but, just like us, he will feel so much better when freshly bathed and groomed. And don’t forget to tell him, in your best praising tone, how good he smells and looks.
* Consider seeking out a dog massage therapist or learning to do dog massage yourself. Does wonders for achy joints and dogs love to be touched.
* Above all, shower your senior dog with lots and lots of hugs, praise and affection. Dogs, as well as humans, live happy healthier lives when they are shown love and acceptance.