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Caring for your aging dog

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The needs of an elderly dog are different from those of a young dog.
Environment, genetics, and nutrition all play a role in how dog’s age. Bigger dogs tend to age quicker than smaller ones. For instance, a Golden Retriever is a senior at 8 to 10 years and a Chihuahua at 10 to 13 years.

Joint health

Your senior dog will slow down with age – he will become tired quicker and may show discomfort when trying to settle down and find a position to sleep in. He may have difficulty climbing in and out of the car and avoid going up and down stairs. Older dogs often experience joint pain and stiffness. Supplements are available that offer pain relief and contain ingredients to support joint health. You may need to make some special accommodations for elderly dogs.
Dogs with arthritis may benefit from using dog ramps. They can make stairs easier to navigate if they cannot be avoided and help them to get outside or onto a bed. Providing dogs with special orthopaedic dog beds or some extra soft blankets may relieve pressure on joints. Consider using carpet runners on smooth floors to reduce slipping.

Dental hygiene

Caring for your dog’s mouth is important, or he may lose teeth. Dental disease can be painful, and with sore or missing teeth, your dog may battle to eat. This results in weight loss and affects the appearance of the coat. It may seem ridiculous to have to brush your dog’s teeth, but it helps to keep his mouth healthy, and special dog toothpaste is available for this purpose. If your dog doesn’t tolerate brushing, you can buy toys and dental treats that are designed to keep teeth clean.

Diet

It’s important to feed your dog a diet that’s age appropriate. You may consider fortifying your arthritic dog’s diet with supplements such as chondroitin and glucosamine which are beneficial for joints. An elderly dog exercises less and needs fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight. When a dog is overweight, this leads to other diseases such as heart disease or diabetes. The most suitable diet for an overweight elderly dog will ensure that nutrient needs are still met while weight loss occurs. Your veterinarian will advise on special diets to address heart or kidney disease.

Incontinence

Many elderly dogs with incontinence do respond to medical management, but some things can be done at home if treatment is not successful. Taking more frequent walks, especially when the dog wakes up in the morning and the last thing at night, using washable bedding and waterproof pads as well as using doggy diapers makes incontinence more manageable.

Veterinarian

Regular visits to the veterinarian are essential, especially as dogs get older. You should talk to him about medications, diet, and supplements. These visits will help him to establish a baseline of what is normal for your dog. Dogs are very good at hiding their issues, and as the owner, you need to stay alert.
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