Your lovable little companion, that warm and squirmy little wiggle worm you remember from days long past, is getting older. The gleeful excitement and zest for absolutely any activity is beginning to fade or has years ago. Your precious little furry child no longer moves so quickly, though he seems to jump at any random noise.
We all wish our loyal companions could live forever, but aging is an unavoidable fact of life. That being said, there are a few things you should prepare for, so you can offer the absolute best care possible during your pet’s golden years!
Because your older pet has less energy, he won’t want to play or run as much. This means he won’t be burning calories at the same rate. Also, just like humans, a dog’s metabolism will begin to slow as he ages. He won’t want to eat any less though!
Exercise and proper nutrition are both extremely important, even if it is only mild exercise your pup can handle. It’s natural for a dog’s joints to begin to wear as he ages, sometimes leading to things like arthritis (another fact of aging). Arthritic joints are made even more uncomfortable if those joints are forced to bear excess weight.
- Consider ‘ramps’ for your car, stairs, and any other incline so your dog isn’t forced to jump and climb.
Eyesight deterioration is another natural result of aging. Most dogs that live long enough will begin to develop cataracts (thickening of the lens, causing the eyes to appear cloudy). Seeing things around your house might become more difficult.
Thankfully, everything about a dog’s vision evolved strictly to augment his hunting abilities, and today’s domesticated pets no longer need to rely on their sight for survival. Even a 100% blind dog will be able to live a completely happy life, as long as you make accommodations! Be wary around traffic/roads, move furniture around your house to make navigation easier (or don’t change anything), and warn strangers or company not to move too quickly or get their faces close to your older pet (especially important for children).
Dental disease from plaque and tartar buildup can become a problem. Chewing on things like bones naturally helps break up these things, but if chewing is uncomfortable, your dog won’t want to do it. Thankfully, your veterinarian will clean your dog’s teeth if you ask, and you can purchase specially designed toothbrushes with Dog Specific toothpaste at most pet stores!
- Plan veterinarian visits regularly.
As he (or she) gets older, there will be accidents. Your precious pet might begin to lose bladder control, which is something we humans can only hope others will be understanding when it happens to us. Our dogs might become more anxious and jumpy, have trouble getting around, and develop other health concerns. Remember, not any of this is due to poor training or your pet’s fault. Provide the same loving care you did with that tiny, squirming 5-pound puppy!