Caring for your Senior Pets
Is your dog showing signs of aging as he approaches senior status? If your dog has slowed down a bit, lost some of his spunk or agility or maybe has some grey hair in his muzzle, it’s possible he has already reached the status of a canine senior citizen. It’s just as important now as when your dog was a puppy to carefully consider his needs at his current stage in life. Just like humans, canine senior citizens has specific needs, too.
Here are some tips for your senior pups
- Keep up with exercise. While it may seem practical to just the let the poor old dog rest, he still needs exercise to keep his bones and muscles strong. Those old bones need to move to help reduce bone pain associated with arthritis and old age. If you’re not sure about how much exercise is safe for your dog, speak to your veterinarian. He’ll help you figure how much movement your dog needs at this stage in his life.
- Visit the veterinarian regularly. Most vets recommend a visit twice a year. Health issues at this stage of life tend to pop up out of nowhere. Visits to the vet will still include a physical exam, blood tests and a quick assessment of dental hygiene. Your vet will more easily be able to identify changes in your dog if he sees him more regularly. Neglecting your dog’s health at any age is never a good idea.
- Reassess what you are feeding your dog. A high quality diet is still important as your dog ages but you will probably need to adjust the amount of calories that he is eating on a regular basis. Fat storage becomes more prevalent as your dog ages so keeping a close eye on your dog’s diet is key to maintaining good health and helping your dog get around with ease. A diet high in protein along with antioxidants and vitamins will help delay the aging process as much as possible.
- Be patient and show love. Your dog still loves you as much as he always has. His inability to behave the way he used to may encourage you to neglect him. Please don’t. He still needs mental and physical stimulation and lots of interaction with you. If he struggles to get around, get some puzzles or play indoor games. The last thing you want is for our senior dog to become depressed and believe me, he will if you neglect his basic needs. Most importantly, be kind when he makes mistakes. If he gets a little cranky in his old age or has accidents in the house, I can assure you that he is not being spiteful. He will struggle at times and so it is now up to you to repay him for his many years of love, loyalty and companionship by showing grace and patience.
Senior dogs make great pets! If you’re considering bringing a new furry family member home, or know someone who is, consider the benefits of a senior dog.
The HUGE benefits of adopting a senior
- Senior pets haven been around the block awhile. More likely than not, they’ve spent time in a home where basic commands and potty etiquette was taught. By adopting a senior, you’ll have less training and socialization to work on. They’re also less destructive because they have learned their manners earlier in life so your favorite rug or shoes probably won’t get chewed on!
- Senior pets are still trainable. Contrary to popular belief, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Older dogs tend to be more focused and have a stronger attention span. They are very eager to please and still crave that interaction they receive during the training process.
- Temperament has been established. By the time a dog reaches senior status, it’s more apparent whether or not he gets along with kids, other dogs, men, or women. Behaviors and idiosyncrasies are apparent and there are usually not any surprises. Essentially, you get to choose more behaviors along with the dog you want whereas when you get a puppy, you really don’t know what you are going to get.
- They make great companions for seniors citizens. If you’re a senior then you’ll probably appreciate the calm demeanor and low energy of a senior dog. Many senior citizens suffer from loneliness or depression so a dog can also bring such joy and companionship. A dog can literally add years to any person’s life. Also, a senior pet has a shorter life span at this stage in life and you won’t have to worry about outliving your dog, which is a common worry of many pet owners.
The love, loyalty and lifetime memories that a senior pet brings more than outweighs any potential burdens or responsibilities that the sunset of their life may bring. They will teach the most about love, even during the trying times. Their love will never wavier and neither should yours.