7 Habits of Highly-Effective Owners of Elderly Dogs
People best friend, the dog, is living longer than ever. This is due to our beloved canines’ increased status as family member. Today, the most families becoming conscientious about providing their pets appropriate veterinary care. As a result, we are faced with a variety of health care issues as they age. No matter which health matter you and your aging dog may be dealing with, there are several components of good pet care you may wish keep in mind.
The 7 Tips you have to know about your older Dog
- First of all is to make sure your dog is not overweight and gets plenty of exercise. Much like humans, an overweight elderly dog will not handle as well with conditions common in older pets such as arthritis.
- The 2nd is to provide proper nutrition for the older dog. Elderly dogs do not need the same amount of calories as a younger ones. The older dog slows down a bit and, therefore, should consume less calories per day. Depending upon the specific issues facing your pet, you may need to add some supplements to your dog’s meals. Supplements such as glucosamine can be very helpful for elderly dogs with sore joints.
- My third tip is to be aware of changes in your dog’s behaviour. These may include variations in food and water intake and elimination, as well as emotional changes such as lethargy. You are the expert on your pet and you know best of anyone how (s)he behaves when (s)he is feeling good. Make note of subtle events as such as walking into a room and realizing “Buddy” doesn’t seem to hear you as well as he did; this could be the start of hearing loss. This is common for dogs, as is some diminished sight capacity. Your challenge as dog owner is to figure out how to best accommodate your dog’s weaker sensory capabilities.
- Do you need to change your environment to make sure your dog is safe? For the sight impaired dog, a baby or pet gate over a stairway would prevent an accident. For the hearing impaired dog, many simple commands such as “stay,” “sit,” and “stop” have sign language equivalents which will be helpful for them to learn.
- As 4th habit for dog owners I have this one. Note that older dogs can and should learn new tricks! Keeping your old dog engaged mentally stimulates them and provides another outlet for their brain and spirit as their physical abilities are weakening. As a dog lover and owner, you are most familiar with your dog’s strengths and weaknesses. You are able to create games and tricks which help them use their abilities and challenge them in areas where they are not as strong. For ideas, internet is a vast resource!
- 5th tip is that veterinarians now recommend that elderly dogs have to receive check-ups every 6 months. Keep strictly to this schedule and you will be better able to handle any health issues which may come. If you do suspect something is wrong with your dog, do not delay in acting. No matter what the health issue, the earlier your pet is seen by the vet, the better chance of proper diagnosis and treatment.
- My 6th tip to you is to be resourceful. Be aware of not only traditional veterinary solutions for your dog, but also investigate possible holistic alternatives such as herbal medicine and acupuncture. Do make sure any professional practicing these techniques has been appropriately licensed and accredited. If you choose to combine traditional veterinary solutions and holistic solutions for treatment of your beloved pet, make sure each veterinarian with whom you are working understands what the other is doing and cooperate together. Traditional medicine and holistic medicine treatments may not always complement each other. Full disclosure with each vet is very important.
- My seventh and last tip to you is to make sure your amazing pet feels as comfortable as possible. As the aging dog has become a new demographic among pet supply stores, there are more products available to help pets’ owners keeping their pets comfortable. Items range from ramps for those dogs not able to use stairs to special orthopaedic beds for dogs with arthritis.
Ultimately, there will come a time when your pet is no longer relaxed and comfortable. It is your final responsibility as the pet owner to decide when your pet’s quality of life has declined to a point where pet euthanasia is absolutely the right thing to do. I know this decision is very difficult and this is the time our pets need us the most. This is not an easy decision to make, but responsible owners and pet lovers should be comforted by the fact they are acting humanely and in the best interest of their pet.