By Matt Barnett
The hard reality of dog ownership is that we outlive our furry friends many times over. Dogs are not our whole lives, but we are certainly theirs, and they provide the best companionship and loyalty than almost any other species. Fortunately for us, we can make life enjoyable for our older dogs with great care and love.
As our dogs start to age, we need to take on new responsibilities as owners and be more accommodating to senior dog lifestyle. Here are some things to keep in mind to care for older dogs.
Accessibility issues for older dogs
It’s important to make your house more accessible as older dogs age. Things such as stairs may become harder to navigate, so keeping water and food close to areas where your dog likes to rest is a good idea.
You should also consider how the outdoors could be affecting your dog. Older dogs are more vulnerable to weather changes, so keep an eye on them while they are outside, especially if it’s hot or cold. Making sure they have easy access to your back door, can limit many problems.
With age comes less mobility and more need for consistent grooming. Your dog will no longer be able to reach certain parts of its body, or keep the dust off its back, so it’s your job to help keep them clean.
Choosing a softer and gentle brush is a good idea, as their skin may be tender or have lumps.
Trim nails often
Nails naturally grind away with walking but because of the lack of mobility, older dogs will need their nails trimmed more often. If you can hear your dog’s nails clicking while they walk, than you know it’s time to trim them down.
Monitor eyes, ears and mouth
In the grooming process, you should also be conscience of the dog’s ears, eyes, and mouths. A regular ear cleaning can significantly help your dog’s hearing, as well as alleviate some discomfort they may be having. Elderly dogs are can be prone to ear infection, so keeping them clean is a plus.
Older dogs may get gunk caught in their eyes, especially if you’re dealing with a hound dog. It’s important to wipe away any goobers that may be building up.
When it comes to your dog’s mouth, be sure there is no bad plaque existing or outstanding bad breath. If you find redness, swelling, or bad breath, you’ll need to contact a vet.
Get regular vet checkups
Just like humans, as dogs age they become more susceptible to medical issues. Older dogs need a more extensive checkup than they used to. When visiting the vet, make sure you’re prepared. This includes telling your vet about any behavioral or physical appearance changes. Has your dog lost their appetite or begun sleeping too much? Vets often will test blood and urine to assess overall health.
Dogs over 7 years old should see the vet twice a year.
Maintain a healthy weight
Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is essential for older dogs. This doesn’t necessarily mean only worrying about older dogs being overweight. Older dogs can lose appetite or have an irregular eating schedule, which leads to unwanted weight loss. Monitoring how well your dog is eating, is the first step in keeping your dog at a healthy weight.
Some dogs age better than others, but being a responsible owner can help your dog have a happier life, especially as they enter their senior years.
Matt Barnett is an avid dog blogger and enthusiast. When he’s not working on Dog Dojo, you can find him exploring the mountains with his three dogs.