Just like people, pets get older, and when they do, they need additional love and care. Dogs can age gracefully, but some dogs might experience health problems or changes in their diet and activity level. If you dog is getting older, there are some things you can do to help them adjust to old age.
1. Increase vet visit frequency.
As a dog gets older, they have greater risk of developing illnesses and diseases. Cancer, kidney problems, trouble with joints, and even cataracts can be caught early and managed or treated to help make your dog more comfortable. One of the simplest ways to catch painful conditions early is to get more frequent vet check-ups. When your dog was younger, you might only have gone to the vet when your dog was ill or injured. Dogs should have check-ups at least once each year, but your veterinarian might recommend increasing that number to two or even three visits per year.
2. Make the home more mobility friendly.
As dogs age, they get stiff joints and muscles. Their energy levels also go down. As a result, your dog might not eagerly climb to a second-story bedroom to sleep like they did when they were younger. Try making things easier for your dog by putting food and bedding on a main level. If your dog like to sit on the couch with you, make it easier for them to get onto the couch by giving a stool so they don't have to jump.
3. Change their food.
Obesity is a challenge for older dogs because they continue to eat the same amount of food but their activity levels go down. Extra pounds can cause health complications, including diabetes and increases strain on the joints. Your vet may recommend changing the amount and types of food they eat so your dog can still feel full but also keep their healthy weight.
4. Make exercise a priority.
Dogs who stay mobile will have fewer joint and muscle problems. However, senior dogs can tire more easily, and they have a harder time regulating their body temperature. You might take walks during a cooler part of the day, and rest frequently. Your dog might want to take a long nap after a daily walk, and that is something you should encourage. Bring water with you on walks to help your dog stay hydrated.
For more information, contact your local veterinarian.