At some point in our years of raising and loving our pups, they grow up. Sometimes it seems as if overnight we have an adult dog and that adorable puppy we used to know can only be found in our snapshots.
Then a few years after that, our dogs enter their senior years. It’s not something that many of us like to think about because watching our pets age can be hard, especially when they become less active and more filled with the pains of old age. Suddenly it seems, our dogs have trouble getting up, sleep much more than they used to, and have stomach disturbances.
August is Senior Pet Month, and any of us that have been lucky enough to raise a pet from babyhood through adulthood, and into their senior year years, nows that elderly pets have very specific needs.
One way to help senior dogs enjoy their later years are to find ways to take away the pains that come with aging. There are many things owners can do to help alleviate our dog’s discomfort and as Dr. Marty Becker points out, they largely can be broken down into three categories:
Less pain: Joints are a looming issue when dogs age but so are dental problems. This is why seeing a vet regularly becomes even more important. Dr. Becker recommends semi-annual visits for older dogs. Dogs with leg problems benefit from glucosamine and dogs in pain may need prescribed pain medication, not aspirin, which can cause ulcers.
Better food: Just as when people age, dogs don’t always feel like eating when they get older, and some have tummy troubles from food that never before used to bother them. So it’s vital that we turn to nourishing food for our senior friends. There is a plentiful supply of choices out on the market today and if you have trouble choosing one, ask your vet, who will more than likely be able to offer a suggestion.
Bedding: Plain and simple, things hurts when you are old even when you’re trying to sleep. Laying on a hard floor will only makes things worse. If your dog doesn’t sleep in the bed with you, he/she will feel better on a soft surface to lie down on. Luckily, the selections for pet beds are vast. Look for an orthopedic bed. If your dog does sleep in your bed, it may be time for doggy steps because those steep jumps just won’t cut it anymore and the last thing you want is for your already suffering doggie to fall and break something.
When my German Shepherd was suffering from hip dysplasia, one of the best products I ever bought were the food and water bowls on stands so that she didn’t have to exert any extra pressure on her back legs by extending her head down to the floor to reach her bowl. She was not eating well as it was, but those bowls, which were her height, enabled her to enjoy her meals again.
Here is a graphic addressing the special needs and highlights of raising a senior pet, courtesy of BlogPaws:
elderly dogs old dogs senior pet month