Your dog may live between ten and fifteen years depending in part on the breed, with an average of twelve years longevity. Aging is a natural process and results in changes in your dog’s metabolism, hormone balance, and sensory perception.
A dog is considered to be a senior at the age of seven or eight. Your aging dog will sleep more and experience degeneration of his body systems and internal organs. Expect him, as he gets older, to have less tolerance of extremes in heat or cold, decreased immunity to disease and infection, and a decline in his metabolism. Older dogs may lose their vision and hearing.
So as you can clearly see, it takes a lot of attention and care when your family pet reaches his golden years. Below are 9 tips that will help you and your dog adjust to old age:
1. Because the older dog is generally less active, he requires fewer calories. If you have children in the house, make certain that they understand that your family dog is elderly and requires more careful and sensitive handling.
2. As your dog grows older, have your veterinarian run appropriate tests to detect any illness or degenerative condition early so he can be treated. Pay attention to any changes in your dog’s habits, behavior, or appearance and report them to your veterinarian.
3. Learn the symptoms of some of the more common problems that afflict the older dog, such as diabetes, kidney and thyroid problems, and heart conditions. If you notice any symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away.
4. Discuss with your veterinarian feeding your geriatric dog a diet formulated specifically for the needs of older animals.
5. As your dog ages, look for signs of dental problems. Clean your dog’s teeth regularly and have your veterinarian professionally clean them when necessary.
6. Pets become more creatures of habit as they age. If you are planning any environmental changes, do so gradually and pay special attention to your dog’s needs to minimize any stress he experiences.
7. When you groom your geriatric dog, look for lumps and bumps under the skin and report them to your veterinarian.
8. Engage your older dog in moderate play to promote muscle tone, increase circulation, and aid digestion.
9. Have your dog leashed when he is outside to keep him safe and help him live longer.