|A lot of animal shelters are currently housing several senior dogs that have been abandoned by their previous owners / Photo by: Jozef Polc via 123RF|
A lot of animal shelters are currently housing several senior dogs that have been abandoned by their previous owners. Most of these owners have claimed that they could not take care of an old and dying pet anymore and that they prefer younger and playful ones. What they don’t realize is that just like every creature on this planet, young and lively dogs eventually grow old and sickly.
Thus, if people really want to take dogs as pets, they should uphold their responsibility as their dogs’ caregiver not only when the animals are healthy but even more so when they become old, sick, and helpless. There are a lot of ways where dog owners can fulfill their responsibility to their pets without spending a lot of money and effort.
Senior dogs are still a delight and they deserve the best of everything in their advanced age. Pet owners should think carefully before sending them away in a shelter or worse, abandoning them on the streets.
Signs of Aging
According to an article published by The Spruce Pets, a website that offers practical, real-life tips and training advice to help you care for your pet, a dog is considered a senior when it reaches the age of seven (in human years).
The typical lifespan of a dog is between 8 to 15 years, with smaller dog breeds living longer than the large ones. This is why for smaller breeds, they are considered a senior when they reach eight or nine years old. Some experts believe that aging starts when the pet shows signs of slowing down. However, this depends on the lifestyle of your pet.
Just like humans, older dogs will have less endurance when they perform physical activities. They might also display less patience in most situations, like when they are around children or other dogs. Senior dogs may appear confused, disoriented, or less responsive compared to when they were in their prime.
Dog owners should watch out for other health complications associated with aging. These include arthritis, blindness, hearing loss, dementia, and kidney disease.
|The typical lifespan of a dog is between 8 to 15 years, with smaller dog breeds living longer than the large ones / Photo by: Susan Richey-Schmitz via 123RF|
Regular Visits to the Veterinarian
If it's your first time taking care of an older dog, it is best to consult a veterinarian for some guidance. Hill’s Pet, an American pet food company, suggests that pet owners must take their senior pet to the veterinarian for regular checkups. It can be helpful for detecting hidden diseases that might become severe if not treated immediately.
Instead of visiting your vet once a year, make it every six months so that the veterinarian can perform wellness exams and health screenings. During these appointments, the vet will determine the body condition of the senior dog. They will also let the owner know if their pet has the ideal body weight for their age.
Maintain Physical Exercises
Senior dogs, despite their slowing down, still require physical activities. But if the dog’s health condition prevents them from getting around, it is advisable to take slower and shorter walks several times a day. Remember that the dog still needs to remain active and one way to keep them healthy is to promote exercise.
Exercising helps in keeping their joints and muscles healthy. PetMD, a website that publishes articles about pet’s health, mentioned in their article that if the senior dog is not used to exercise, pet owners must start slowly and gradually. Consult a veterinarian if you plan to increase the intensity of their physical activity.
Some aging dogs might also need lifting assistance. Consider having special equipment to be used when assisting them. An example of this equipment is a special harness that is made out of a comfortable waterproof material. This harness can also be used for assisting pets that are recovering from surgery or injury as they gain mobility.
|In both cases, it’s necessary to weigh your pet regularly in order to make sure that they’re losing or gaining weight in a healthy and normal way / Photo by: Iakov Filimonov via 123RF|
Although there have not been enough studies about what kind of diet senior dogs should have, there are some doctors who have analyzed samples of more than 40 different dog foods that are classified as “for seniors.” Time Square Chronicles, a community paper, reported on their website that most of these foods all contain fewer calories, increased fiber, and less protein.
But before you choose this kind of dog food, it is best to identify first the nutritional needs of your pet. If your dog is losing weight, it might not be a good idea to feed him food with fewer calories. Dogs that are in their golden years tend to suffer from weight loss or gain.
In both cases, it’s necessary to weigh your pet regularly in order to make sure that they’re losing or gaining weight in a healthy and normal way. When changing their diet, pet owners must do it slowly. Starting a new diet for your dog overnight might cause a negative effect on their health, particularly on their stomach.