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What should I do to better care for my elderly dog?
You and your best furry pal have spent several years together with possibly many misadventures. But, you start to notice that your pup is moving as fast as they used to, having trouble making it up the steps, or is just no longer spry as you used to remember. You begin to worry about your fuzzy companion and think that there is something wrong. This doesn't mean that it is the absolute end, however just like people your dog will reach their senior years of their life.
When your pup hits those golden years of their life, there are a lot of things that you can do in order to help make life more comfortable, enjoyable, and active. Here are some tips for giving your dog the final year of their life, because they are worth it.
How do I know if my dog is elderly?
Depending on the size of your dog, the age of the dog can slightly vary when translating into human years. Typically, 10 years is a good age to start classifying your dog as hitting their elderly years because they are hitting the equivalency of their 60's in human years. Just like people, your dog will start show signs of joint problems and will be at a greater risk of health problems.
What kind of medical care should I provide?
Your elderly dog will need a bit more care to help stay happy, healthy, and mobile. It is really important to keep your dog healthy during the later years so that they can be comfortable during the last couple of years in their life. To help with this, you will need to look into both of the following.
Because your dog is going to need more care, you will want to increase vet visits to at least bi-annual to ensure that medical exams are performed for potential illnesses and even cancer. If your dog is not spayed or neutered, you will want to have the vet to check for mammary, prostate, and testicular cancers since they will be a higher risk for problems as the dog gets older. The vet will also be able to prescribe medications for your pup.
Medications can help your dog function as arthritis develops in their joints. This can be uncomfortable due to inflammation and can slow your dog's activity down significantly. By addressing this issue, you can help put the spring back into you fuzzy friend's step.
- Prescription medications from vet
- NSAIDS prescribed by a vet (DO NOT give your dog human NSAIDS). This will help with addressing joint pain and inflammation related to arthritis.
- Over-the-counter medications
- Omega fatty acids
- Chondroitin sulfate
Is there any equipment I can buy to assist with mobility?
Medication isn't the only way to help with your dog's aching joints. There are a lot of great items you can purchase which can help your dog with getting around the house along with in and out of the car with greater ease. In addition, you can find some nice items designed to make you pup feel more comfortable wherever they happen to sleep.
- Pet Gear Free Standing Ramp works great for getting your dog in and out of the car by creating an incline to walk up on rather. It helps to prevent the dog from having to jump into the backseat or rear of the car.
- High Density Foam Pet Stairs Steps are great for helping your dog get up onto their favorite couch or chair for cuddles while you are at home. It provides small steps to prevent jumping or hopping down which could cause discomfort for you dog.
- Pet Gear Easy Step IV Pet Stairs is great for if your dog needs extra help to get into high standing furniture such as the bed so that they can remain independent.
- Labra Veterinarian Approved Dog Canine K9 Sling is great for helping you pup get around if their arthritis is causing instability issues. It will help you keep your dog active by having you create some of the support to ease your dog's aching joints.
As your dog gets older, regular dog beds will not be able to provide to comfort and support needed to help your dog with arthritis and hip problems. In addition, other issues can develop such as incontinence and bladder problems. I prefer to use memory foam dog beds with waterproof covers which will help cushion the body and are easily cleaned in case of accidents.
A good dog bed to potentially look in to would be the Premium Memory Foam Orthopedic Waterproof Dog Bed. Just remember that like your bed, a good dog bed is very important for your old, fuzzy pal.
What else should I consider for my elderly dog?
Try to keep you dog active. Staying active is a very important task for helping keep your dog happy and healthy. Your dog still wants to be able to catch the ball even it takes them a bit longer. Roll the ball a couple of times for a little activity. Also, take your dog for light walks to help keep joints moving so that their body will lubricate the joints for easier motion.
Remember that though your dog is getting older, that doesn't mean they don't have any life left in them. Make sure that you provide the proper medical care and equipment for keeping your dog healthy and comfortable in their twilight years. And, don't forget that your pup can still use a good snuggle and cuddle at the end of the day so that they continue to know that you will always be there for them.