Have you ever heard people say that old people are like young children? Well, the same logic applies in the canine world too. As dogs grow older, their needs and dependencies increase. While giant and large breeds age faster, smaller breeds on an average are considered old between 10-12 years. However, there are number of factors including nutrition, environment and genetics that play a crucial role when we talk about a dog’s aging.
As we go further, we will discuss small changes that we as owners can make in the lives of our kids to make them more comfortable during their senior years. But before we proceed, do note that arthritis and dental problems are one of the most common concerns faced by senior pets and regular visit to the vet is a must for them. When visiting a veterinarian do make sure to ask about your pet’s complete body evaluation. For instance, putting on weight is as bad as losing too much weight so you have to know how to maintain your pet’s ideal weight. In addition, to maintaining an ideal weight, you can also do the following to make your senior pet(s) comfortable:
Healthy eating: Balanced diet is the norm of the day, whether you have a young dog or an old one. As a pet becomes older, it becomes more important to provide them with healthy eating options so that they do not face digestion or weight issues. For senior pets, one needs to provide food that is readily digested, and offers anti-aging nutrients.
Control parasites and infections: Healing process is slower in older pets as compared to the young ones; hence, it is important to keep track and respond to any infection in a faster manner. Since the natural immunity of older pets goes low with time, as an owner you must provide supplements to your pets. Medication and supplements should always be taken in consultation with the vet because you do not want to over-do any one nutrient.
Exercise works: During old age, pets tend to take it slow but this is no excuse for them to stay curled up inside. Infact, they need to exercise both physically and mentally to keep healthy. They may not go for long strenuous hikes but a good walk and more toys; YES…I said TOYs are a must. Remember, most of the issues in older pets are health related.
Spend time: Senior pets need more care and love. Parents need to spend time playing, talking and grooming with their older pets. This is important to ensure that your pets do not feel lonely or sad. Also, as shared earlier, more toys need to be provided to senior pets to ensure that they get enough mental exercise.
Notice changes: Noticing small changes in behaviour can go a long way in detecting what is going on with your canine child. Behaviour changes can be due to a lot of reasons including medical issues. Change in sleep cycle, confusion, disorientation, increased irritability, decreased response to commands or interaction with humans and other dogs, house soiling, etc. are all reasons to take your child to the vet for a full scan.
Make adjustments: A dog with arthritis will feel more comfortable if you provide them with carpeted or rugged floor to walk on. In fact, ramps can be used to make climbing stairs easier. If you have a pet that has body aches, then warm blankets (electrically heated) can be provided to them during winters.