So, you’ve had your beloved dog for many years now. You have this amazing bond with him, and now he’s slowing down. Your best friend, your companion, your buddy; he’s been unconditionally loyal, committed and loving to you and your family. As you watch him slowing down, your heart breaks just a little bit more each day. But, his senior years could be his best years ever!
There are a couple of things that you must do in order to keep your senior healthy and happy. Making sure your dog has proper nutition is an absolute must! As dogs age, nutritional needs may change. Make sure he visits the vet at least twice a year. They can determine his health by a physical exam and may take bloodwork to ensure everything is functioning properly. It’s much better to diagnose a problem early which may determine an easy prevention.
Keep your dogs weight under control. Over-weight seniors age more quickly then leaner dogs. They have more difficulty getting up and down because they are putting extra weight on their joints unneccesarily. All dogs need mobility and weight management, especially seniors, to lead a proper life. According to Dr. Lauten, arthritis can be one of the firsst symptoms of an overweight dog.
Another way to keep your senior happy is to baby him. That’s right, Baby Him!! Take slow walks at his pace, brush him daily, talk to him, give him special treats and make sure he has a clean, comfy bed to sleep in. It’s best not to leave your senior for long periods of time. Many senior dogs get anxious when left alone, I know mine does. If you must go out of town, have someone come to your home to care for your dog. Never put a senior in a kennel if he’s not familiar with it.
Most old dogs loose partial sight and hearing. Make sure to keep hallways and yards clear of clutter so he doesn’t trip. And always keep a collar with tags on your senior in case he wanders away. My dog, Scraps, wandering to my neighbors yard a few weeks ago (Yes, I was watching her)when I loudly called her to come back she couldn’t hear me. But as I watched her, I noticed she was lost and started to panic because she also can’t see well. When I approached her and gave her a pat to let her know I was there, she looked at me like “Oh, thank heavens, I have no idea how to get home!” I realized at that point, I’d have to be extra careful with her, not only from getting lost, but from walking in front of a moving car.
As we all know our senior dogs won’t live forever. But we can charish the time we have with them now. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures now while they’re still around and, most importantly, take the time to enjoy your senior dog. They deserve their last years to be special.