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How to care for an older dog - what can a dog owner do?

Updated on October 31, 2007

Older dogs are near and dear to my heart as I have a senior in the household myself. Our dog has been with us for so long now, I do not even remember how life was before we had him. But that is what our canine companions do to us, little buggers get under your skin in a matter of days and stay there forever. With an aging dog comes a number of issues you should pay attention to if you want to ensure your dog has the highest quality of life possible. What you can do to ensure your aging dog has all the special care and attention he needs?

First and foremost you will want to ensure your dog gets high quality nutrition, which is tailored to his needs. For example, since my dog has a sensitive stomach we have changed his diet a few years ago on a suggestion by our vet.

And do not forget about exercise, do take your dog for regular walks; just make sure not to overdo it. Being overweight is also an issue that might cause problems for your aging dog, as it can sometimes lead to joint problems, heart issues and a number of other things. Another important thing is to take your aging dog for regular vet check-ups. If you are a responsible pet owner you would have done this anyway, however with an aging dog it is even more important as your vet will check the dog for any possible heart, liver and kidney disease. On the other hand, what you can do as a dog owner is to check your dog for any possible lumps and bumps while either grooming or cuddling your dog. If you notice something that might be worrying take your dog to the vet. Also what older dogs love is routine. So try not to disrupt the existing routine he has and minimize the possible disruptions. And above all pet and cuddle your dog as they do love the attention and affection.

What are the possible health issues your aging dog might experience? It does depend on the breed as well as your dog's general state of health, however some possible issues are more likely then others. Arthritis is one of them. The signs to look for if your dog has problems getting up after being asleep, they might become slower or have problems with the stairs. The good news is that there are a number of treatments available for arthritis in dogs such as glucosamine supplements, anti-inflammatory treatments or plain old dog aspirin. I have been giving my dog a vitamin and mineral supplement for joints, heart and eyesight, which does help him a lot. Consult your vet about possible treatments and/or supplements. Another thing you might want to consider is a ramp or steps to help your dog get in and out of car or his bed. There are a number of items available on the market to accommodate the smallest and the biggest of dogs, so consider your dog, his needs and size that should help you find an adequate model.

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