Proper health care for an older dog requires more attention from an owner than when it was a puppy or young adult dog.
It is important to know when your pet is a “senior citizen” so you can make appropriate changes in its diet and exercise to ensure a longer, healthy life. As a general rule of thumb, dogs are considered senior around seven years of age.
A quick look around your favorite pet store will reveal most dry packaged dog foods carry the inscription “For senior dogs 7 years or older”. As a general rule, larger dogs are considered to be seniors around five or six, and smaller dogs around nine years. There is such a large variety of dog breeds and sizes that there is no single age that automatically designates senior status.
Most dog owners feel their dogs do not live long enough. A recent survey of more than 1,000 people showed that one third of Americans who own a pet dog have no idea when their dog is a senior dog. And with 71 million pet-owning households in the United States, this translates to millions of dog owners that don’t know how to provide the best care for their dog’s senior years.
One of the most common misconceptions among dog owners is that pets and their owners age differently. While the rate at which dogs age is different than humans, the changes that take place with advancing age are very similar. Both pets and humans either gain or lose weight, develop arthritic joints, encounter problems with their heart, and often experience dental problems.
Another misconception that seems to be common among almost all dog owners is if a dog is overweight it isn’t a major health concern. While obesity should be a major health concern for dog owners, sudden weight loss is also a serious health worry. Diseases such as cancer, kidney failure, and diabetes can cause weight loss and you need to schedule a visit to your veterinarian if your dog has a sudden weight loss.
The usual symptoms of obesity can be managed with proper diet and exercise. Aching joints and lack of energy can also be managed successfully with natural supplements like Winston’s Joint System. This highly recommended product has helped thousands of dogs who were suffering from debilitating joint diseases such as hip dysplasia and arthritis.
One of the most popular misconceptions now found on the internet is that exercise and dog toys that entertain and engage a dog’s senses are the best ways to prevent cognitive decline. The reality is that cognitive decline, or geriatric dementia, although most often associated with older humans, also affects older dogs who are prone to age-related dementia also. Dementia in older dogs usually becomes evident with inappropriate acts like barking in the middle of the night, urinary accidents in house-trained dogs, or becoming disoriented in his familiar home, and a lessening of interaction with family members. Dementia, which exhibits itself as a general disorientation, usually causes stress, anxiety, and fear, both in the dog and its human owner.
Some common age-related changes to watch for as your pet dog ages: He or she becomes less active, sleeps more, often develops a reduced sense of hearing and sight, is less able to handle temperature changes, and loses muscle mass. These changes may be symptoms of a disease, so be aware of any sudden weight loss or gain, sudden loss of appetite, lethargy, increased thirst or urinating more than usual.
When your dog reaches the start of his senior years, he will need your loving care more than ever. Maintaining good health care for your older dog is is the best way to repay your aging dog for the loyalty and pleasure it has given you for so many years. Show him or her that you love them as much as they have loved you. Spend time petting and just being with them. You may be surprised at the calming effect it produces in both of you.