Aging Dogs - Comfort for Old Dogs
By: Donna Boras
Aging dogs that are happy and comfortable are a beautiful sight. It means that someone has done an excellent job of taking care of their dog and made his life worthwhile; it says very good things about the dog's owner.
Arthritis in dogs is common as they age, they suffer from the same inconveniences that old humans do: Their joints get stiff, energy levels diminish, their hearing lessens and eyesight becomes less acute. Dog incontinence may also be a problem in old dogs. Fortunately a dog's sense of smell seems to be most resistant to aging changes.
There are many products in today's world to make your aging dog more comfortable.
Caring for Older Dogs
An Old dog appreciates a warm, comfortable bed. An orthopedic bed is a good choice, they provide maximum support and are specifically made to cushion joints and bones. For arthritic dogs this is ideal and they are available in various styles. For added comfort consider a heated dog bed, bed warmer or a heated blanket for your aging best friend. The combination of a supportive bed and heat will have a very therapeutic affect on your dog. Place the bed in an area free of drafts.
Choose food for an elderly dog carefully. Older dogs tend to put on extra pounds because of reduced activity and they burn calories less efficiently. They do best on fewer calories because they use less energy. But do not reduce the amount of food for your aging dog; just choose lower-calorie foods. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on diet and a vitamin/mineral regimen based on your dog's health. It may make a difference to his energy level. Be sure your senior dog has plenty of water at all times. Older dogs can become dehydrated more easily then younger ones.
Exercise is important but do not over tax your best buddy. Let him smell the flowers or the "fire hydrant." Short walks several times a day, rather than one long one may be a good idea.
Regular checkups are a must for older dogs. In addition to annual vaccinations and health checkups, pay special attention to dental care. He is likely to lose some teeth and may develop bad breath. Keep his teeth clean and free of plaque build up and have his teeth routinely checked. This will decrease the chance that he will develop serious problems, such as heart disease resulting from tooth decay or gum disease.
Incontinence is sometimes a problem for old dogs. The causes are many. Do not scold him for something that is not his fault. Do see your veterinarian, it may be treatable. A temporary way of dealing with urination caused by incontinence is the use of doggy diapers and training pads to eliminate those messes in your home. Diapers for dogs are available is several sizes and styles designed for male and female dogs. Training pads may be placed under your dog to protect carpet, furniture and his bed.
Finally, good grooming for your senior dog is useful. Brush daily to keep the coat healthy and to discover any problems such as dry skin, sore spots, body odor, fleas and ticks. Check your dog's ears for odor or discharge produced by infection.
Genetics do play a part. Generally speaking; small dogs (20 lbs) live longer and don't show signs of aging until around 12 years of age. While with medium sized dogs (20 - 50 lbs), the affects of aging will be seen around 10 years. For larger breeds (90 lbs and up) aging generally begins to show around 8 years of age. There are exceptions to this, of course. With advances in geriatric veterinary care, good nutrition and excellent care for aging dogs, the process of aging may be slowed down.
Donna Boras is the webmaster of dog-beds-n-beyond and a life long dog lover. For more information on orthopedic dog beds and heated dog beds, advice on caring for your dog and dog product reviews please visit our website. This article may be reprinted as long as the resource box and live links are included intact.
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