Canines go through changes as they age in the same way people do. Their heart and kidneys become taxed and less capable of enduring extreme physical exertion. Their coats becomes less shiny and gray hairs may begin showing through. The pads of their feet might thicken, their joints may begin aching, and their immune system may be less able to hold diseases at bay.
There are plenty of things you can do to help your aging pooch adapt to life as a senior dog. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of exercise, meals that accommodate his age and activity level, and ongoing veterinary care. These are the cornerstones upon which your mature canine’s health depends.
The Importance Of Exercise For Mature Canines
A proper exercise program begins when your pet is a puppy. But it’s important to realize his exercise requirements will change as he ages. In fact, as a senior dog, he may be unable to do some of the things that came easy to him as a pup. Make an appointment with his veterinarian to tailor a program that considers his limitations (e.g. joint pain, reduced mobility, etc.).
One of the reasons exercise is so important for senior canines is because they tend to become overweight due to lack of activity. By taking your pooch for one or two walks each day, you’ll help him keep the extra pounds off. That, in turn, will help him sidestep health issues later.
Another benefit older dogs enjoy from physical activity is that it slows down joint deterioration. Arthritis is common among senior pets as the cartilage that cushions their bones wears away. Exercise delays the inevitable.
Prepare Meals To Fit Age And Activity Level
Owners often neglect to modify the meals they provide their older pets. This leads to obesity, which places excess stress on their dog’s heart, kidneys, and lungs. As your pooch ages, his activity level will decline. If you continue feeding him the same amount of food, his weight will increase. This is the reason it is important to provide meals that accommodate his age and activity requirements.
Your canine will still require a generous portion of proteins, fiber, and fats in order to stay healthy. However, you can afford to cut back on calories since he is unlikely to burn through them. Many commercial dog foods are specifically designed for older canines. They pack their formulations with the nutrients your pooch needs while leaving the unnecessary calories behind.
Provide Ongoing Veterinary Care
Like exercise, regular trips to the veterinarian should start as early as possible. That way, your canine will receive the proper vaccinations, preventative treatments for parasites, and dental exams as a puppy. These elements play a key role in helping him maintain his health as he ages.
When your dog becomes a senior, it is more important than ever that he receive regular physical and oral exams. He’ll need vaccinations to help his weakened immune system fight off diseases. He may need specialized tests done periodically, such as a urinalysis, EKG, thyroid exams, and monitoring of his blood pressure. These tests help your canine’s veterinarian detect problems and treat them before they worsen.
Planning For The End
Eventually, you’ll need to plan for the passing of your senior dog. A lifetime of loyalty and companionship will come to an end. For many owners, the best solution is euthanasia to help their pets avoid suffering in pain. Speak with your veterinarian regarding how it is handled and what to expect following the event.
Senior dogs need special attention and monitoring to help them maintain their health. As your canine’s body changes, his exercise requirements and dietary needs will also change. Work with his veterinarian to design a program that accommodates him.
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