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The Issues of the Aging Dog

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The Spirit of Bo, rendering advice on dealing with aging pets:

Just as humans face the inevitable afternoon of life when joints hurt, sides aches, faces begin to age, and you wonder where that pep in our step went, our loving canine friends also face certain issues as they begin to age.

As your dog begins to slow down and lose some steam, it is important to realize that his needs are changing and it is so important to keep him healthy and comfortable during this transition.

Depending upon the breed and the size, most dogs reach the proverbial “old age” milestone around seven years. This is about the time their metabolism and immune systems slow down. Arthritis my enter into the picture, affecting their mobility; and their vision and hearing may become compromised. They may even experience loss of bladder and bowel control.

Further, an aging dog may develop gray areas around the muzzle and eyebrows. His once playful demeanor has given way to a more subdued and less active personality. He may even become irritable around children and other dogs.

It is important that your veterinarian examine your older dog at least once a year. Some even suggest a check-up every six months. This is a time to check for common age-related issues as related to the liver, kidneys and pancreas. Heart disease can also be a factor at this time, as well as any problems associated with loss of hearing and vision.

Be aware that as a dog ages, his dietary needs also change. He does not need as much food to maintain his weight. He may also require a geriatric or senior diet, something your veterinarian can recommend.  Also, because older dogs are more likely to experience dehydration, it is important to make sure he always has access to fresh water.

Regular grooming of your dog is essential at this time, too. Not only will this help to keep his coat and skin from becoming too dry, it may also help you find any suspicious lumps, tumors or other abnormalities, which will require immediate attention from your vet. Be sure to maintain proper dental care, too. Bad breath and tooth decay are common problems at this time. When issues of the teeth and gums go unchecked, it can lead to heart disease.

Older dogs may also need to take more frequent potty breaks and might experience periods of incontinence at night. If this becomes an issue, lay a plastic sheet or washable pad over his bed.

Be sure to consult with your vet about these potential issues and other age-related problems that might arise. Above all, however, never reduce the amount of love and affection you give to your dog. Those are some of the most important things you can provide

Thanks to akc.org for this helpful information.

 

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