Care for your senior dog

Your senior dog has given you many wonderful years of companionship. Don’t you owe it to him to make sure his later years are easy and comfortable?

http://i.imgur.com/Zu9TjGg.jpgHow do you know if your dog is approaching his golden years? Different breeds of dogs mature at different rates, but a good rule of thumb is the larger the dog, the faster they mature. Based on this if your dog is seven he is probably experiencing, or at least approaching, his senior years. When your dog hits this stage in his life it’s important that he receive the right amount of exercise, nutrition, and veterinary care.

Signs of an Aging Dog
How does your dog show the signs of age? A healthy senior dog will most likely have a decrease in energy level. He may nap more, or become tired more easily. Your senior dog may also be stiff after play or upon getting up after a rest. How do you know the difference between normal wear and tear and arthritis or an injury? If your dog loosens up after mild activity he’s probably just showing some signs of age. Dogs who seem to feel worse as the days go on should be seen by a vet to rule out other possibilities.

A senior dog can benefit from comfy sleeping quarters. There are several companies out there that make bedding for dogs designed to take the pressure off of aging and aching joints. These are often made of memory foam or eggshell foam, and have removable covers that can be machine washed in case your senior dog has an accident.

Exercise
A good exercise regimen can help your pet avoid problems common in the senior dog such as weight gain and arthritis. Exercise also improves digestion and circulation. Just make sure you don’t overdo it! A leisurely walk or two a day plus some low-key playing should do the trick. And always make sure that your dog stays well-hydrated.

Nutrition
As your dog ages, his dietary needs will change. Be sure to choose a food that is appropriate for you dog’s needs and conditions! As a general rule of thumb, a good senior dog food will have fewer calories, enough protein, and vitamins and minerals that help your dog’s coat and teeth stay strong and healthy.

Weight gain due to slowing metabolisms is a common problem with senior dogs. How do you know if your dog is overweight? Try this simple test. Put your hands on his backbone and feel for his ribcage. If you can’t feel it, chances are your dog needs to shed a few pounds. Since this is a common problem among older dogs there are a number of foods on the market with lower fat and calories.

Veterinary Care
Your dog will be experiencing lots of emotional and physical changes as he ages. Because of this, it is important to keep up on his health! In addition to his regular check-ups and shots, ask your vet about twice-annual geriatric screenings.

Give your senior dog the right care, and he’ll really enjoy his golden years!

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