Committing to pet ownership is something you do for the long haul, starting from the day you bring the pet home. However, the commitment is worthwhile because you get a loyal and loving companion for a lifetime. Not surprisingly, statistics show that nearly 62% of American households own a pet, with 35% having more than one. Almost all of them (97%) consider their pets family members.
Dogs are the favorites when it comes to pet ownership, with 65.1 million US households raising them. These pet owners are willing to give a part of their lives to their pets, from taking care of their health and grooming to loving them unconditionally. The hardest part of raising a pet is its senior years. You always worry about the end, and you want the animal to have the best golden years.
Senior dogs, in particular, require extra TLC during their aging years because they often struggle with issues like canine osteoarthritis, chronic pain, and inflammation. As a pet parent, you need to ensure proper care to keep your canine companion healthy and happy during this phase.
In this guide, we will share the essential steps for tending to an aging canine companion.
Schedule Regular Vet Checkups
While routine veterinary check-ups are important for all ages, they become increasingly crucial as dogs age. Senior dogs are prone to issues like canine osteoarthritis pain, decreased appetite, and cardiac disease. A professional can look for early clinical signs of potential health issues, allowing for timely intervention.
They can recommend treatment options to address these issues. Consider the example of osteoarthritis, a common condition in senior dogs that even affects 20% of dogs aged over a year. Galliprant for dogs is an effective remedy for pain and inflammation associated with canine OA. Your vet will recommend an appropriate dosage of Galliprant tablets according to the age and specific needs of your aging pet.
According to PetCareRx, you must dig deep into the potential side effects and precautions related to Galliprant before starting the treatment regimen. Also, do not hesitate to ask questions and clear your doubts with the vet. Your vet specialist may follow up on vaccinations, dental examinations, and screenings for common geriatric conditions for a healthy canine. You should not delay these tests and treatments.
Follow a Tailored Nutrition Plan
Senior dogs experience changes in muscle mass, metabolism, and overall health. As a result, their dietary needs often change over the years. The nutrients and portion you fed your canine a few years ago may not be apt once it starts aging. Besides falling short of nutrients to keep inflammation at bay, the wrong diet can cause weight gain.
Canine obesity is a major concern in the US, with 2022 statistics showing that 59% of dogs are obese or overweight. It can be a bigger problem for older dogs because every extra pound they carry elevates the risk of disease and affects their longevity.
Seek advice regarding a senior-specific diet from a vet to address age-related nutritional needs, support joint health, and maintain a healthy weight. Focus on a high-quality diet and feed smaller servings several times a day to ease the digestive process.
Ensure Regular Exercise
Research shows that regular exercise is essential for maintaining the physical and mental health of senior dogs. Moreover, it can help maintain weight and prevent related issues such as joint pain and inflammation. However, you may worry about creating an exercise routine for an aging pet, even more so if it struggles with canine osteoarthritis.
Adjust your dog’s exercise routine according to its current health and physical capabilities. You can consider low-impact activities such as gentle walks and swimming. Consistency, rather than intensity, is the key to maximizing the benefits of exercise for aging canines.
Provide Mental Stimulation
Like humans, dogs are prone to cognitive decline over the years. Several studies indicate that dogs may suffer from memory loss and other behavioral issues as they age. Problems like confusion and separation anxiety may also aggravate during the later years. The last thing you want to deal with is a pet that forgets things or becomes anxious in your absence.
Keeping your dog mentally stimulated can slow down or even prevent age-related cognitive issues. Spend quality time with your pet, engaging it with short training sessions, puzzle toys, and interactive games. These practices provide mental exercise and strengthen the bond between you and your furry companion.
Create a Safe and Comfortable Living Environment
Aging dogs require a safe and comfortable living environment during their golden years. An orthopedic bed is an ideal addition to your pet’s living space if it struggles with joint pain and inflammation. The best offers a cozy and comfortable place to rest and soothe achy joints. Also, provide a soft and warm quilt to cover it.
Ensure easy access to food and water so that your senior dog does not need to struggle to feed itself. Consider ramps or steps to help it navigate elevated surfaces. Most importantly, create a calm, quiet space where it can sleep and rest undisturbed.
Perform Regular Grooming
Grooming is another essential aspect of caring for an elderly canine. Brush its coat, clean its ears and teeth, and trim its nails regularly to ensure comfort and hygiene. Watch out for ticks and fleas because they can upset an aging dog. Older dogs are more susceptible due to low immunity, so be sure to check their skin.
Regular grooming does more than keep your pet clean and presentable. It also enables you to identify any suspicious lumps, bumps, or skin issues that may need immediate veterinary attention. Timely treatment can prevent complications.
In conclusion, your senior dog deserves the best quality of life during its golden years. A little extra effort is all you need to invest for its good health and longevity. Even if your canine suffers from health issues like osteoarthritis, mobility issues, and cognitive decline, good care can resolve a lot of problems. Follow this simple checklist to keep your canine companion in great shape as it grows older.