Caring for Your Senior Dog

If you haven’t already, soon you may begin to notice some telltale signs that your dog is entering the “senior” years. Maybe your dog takes longer to fetch a favorite ball. Maybe your dog has stopped greeting you at the door – or takes longer to get there. Maybe your dog is “forgetting” housetraining. Perhaps you’re noticing that your dog is gaining weight, has poor skin and coat condition or is sleeping more than usual. While these things may just seem like normal “old age” to you, the fact is that any or all of these signs might be an indication that your senior dog has a medical problem that needs attention.

In the past, we often accepted a declining quality of life for our aging pets – or for ourselves, for that matter – as a fact of life beyond our control. Thanks to advances in disease detection and treatment, that is no longer necessary!

With appropriate veterinary care and nutrition, your dog’s senior years can be a healthy and happy time. And you are the key to making this happen.You know your dog better than anyone, so it’s up to you to report any changes you see to our veterinary staff. I also recommend that you bring your dog in for physical examinations and lab work more often now. Remember: your dog ages 5 to 7 years for every one of yours. This suggests that health problems in your dog can progress 5 to 7 times faster and, therefore, more frequent checkups are necessary. By working together, we can prevent or treat many problems that could rob your dog of its quality of life.

Now is also a good time to reassess your dog’s diet. Proper nutrition is an extremely important factor in your senior dog’s health. Dietary needs mirror the changes occurring in the body, metabolism slows and fewer calories are required, just as we need to alter our diets as we grow older, aging dogs should avoid excess weight gain. A properly formulated diet combined with a moderate exercise program is powerful preventive medicine for your senior dog.

By sharing life and love with you, your dog has given you a priceless gift. Now that your dog has earned senior status, you have an opportunity to give something in return: the special love and care that can make the “golden” years happy and healthy. I encourage you to make an appointment soon to discuss how we can make these the best years of your life together.