Thank you to freelance guest writer, Elliot Caleira, for this blog post:
As with humans, when a pet begins to get older there are a lot more health problems that they will have to deal with. And when this happens, it is up to you to help them through it.
The main thing to remember as a dog ages is to practice patience. They will not be able to help many of the side effects of aging, and only you can make the process more comfortable and easier for them. Here are some things to prepare for as your pet begins to age.
1. Restricted Movement
As your dog gets older, its joints will start to deteriorate, and movement becomes more difficult. You may be used to taking long walks at a quick place, but as the animal ages it won’t be able to do quite as much.
Exercise is still incredibly important for older animals, but just be aware that they may not be able to go as fast or as far as they used to. Try and keep them to places that aren’t as strenuous, where there are fewer steep inclines and not too much hard cement.
Devices such as dog wheelchairs can be helpful in maintaining an exercise regime.
Dog wheelchairs can help your dog maintain muscle tone when legs are beginning to weaken, or after mobility has been lost in a limb(s).
2. Weight Gain
Again, because of this decrease in mobility, weight gain can start to become a problem for older dogs. When their joints are already a concern, it is imperative that you keep your dog’s weight down to a healthy level. You can easily use the internet to find out the correct weight for your dog’s breed, and your vet will weigh your pet each time you go.
The most important ways to keep your dog’s weight down are through regular exercise and a healthy diet. No more dinner scraps or too many special treats!
3. Skin Problems
Because of its decreased mobility, it will become harder for your dog to clean itself as it gets older. As such, certain skin problems can arise, not to mention the excess smell. This will require you to bathe your dog regularly.
You can hose your dog down after muddy walks or when they get particularly dirty, but you will also have to give them a proper bath with a healthy dog shampoo every so often. It is important to use a shampoo that is made for dogs, because dogs have more sensitive skin. Human shampoo can cause irritation and other problems.
4. Gum Disease
You might not have thought it, but keeping your dog’s teeth clean is actually hugely important, especially for older dogs. According to Dr. Fred Metzger, “older dogs and cats with neglected teeth are time bombs ticking.”
They can be susceptible to tartar build up, which causes gingivitis, causing bacteria to get into the bloodstream and damage the dog’s organs. The best way to prevent this is to brush your dog’s teeth regularly, use dental chews, and take it in for yearly cleanings at the vet.
Incontinence can also become a problem for older dogs, as well as accidental defecation around the house. It can be frustrating to say the least, but it is important to remember that, for the most part, your dog cannot help it.
Try to be as gentle and understanding as you can, as accidents are sure to happen. There are many products on the market that can assist you in keeping your pet dry!