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Senior dogs have different health requirements than younger dogs. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind to keep them hale and hearty:
- Regular health check-ups – Take your senior dog for regular visits to the veterinarian. A lot of veterinarians recommend having senior dogs examined at least twice every year, and more, if the dog is facing a particular health issue. Thorough physical examination by the vet is the best way to unmask issues that can impact the comfort level and life of your pet, like arthritis, dental disease, kidney disease, heart disease and a lot more.
- Keep a lookout for behavioral changes – Pay close attention to the behavior of a senior dog. Any change in the normal behavior of your dog could be symptomatic of a disease. Watch for any changes in your dog's water consumption pattern, appetite, bowel and urinary habits, and sleep routines. If your dog is irritable all of a sudden, he/she could be suffering from a lot of pain, have difficulty seeing, or have a hard time with hearing things properly. If you see any changes in your senior pet's behaviors or routines, schedule an appointment with the vet immediately.
- Make it easy for him to get around – Your senior dog might have pain in the joints due to arthritis or could be suffering from other health issues which make it difficult for him to move around like he did in his prime. Provide stairs or ramps to allow easier access to beds or furniture. Ramps make it easier for your pet to climb floors, and laying down carpets on slippery floors will help him gain footing. He may also need assistance to get in and out of the car.
- Choose an appropriate diet – Dietary requirements change as your dog grows old. Make sure that the pet food you provide your senior dog is age appropriate. Some of the older pets gain weight due to their metabolism slowing down and would need diets that are specially formulated for less active dogs. Some dogs have difficulty holding on to their weight and need diets with higher caloric content and better palatability. Senior dogs may also suffer from diseases that can be controlled or manipulated through their diet. Your vet can help you choose a suitable diet based on your dog's nutritional requirements.
- Pimp out their bed – Provide towels and soft blankets for their beds. This will help them rest easy and sleep better. You can even get special orthopedic bedding for senior dogs. Apart from having a denser form to cushion their aging joints, they can also be fitted with a vibration/or heat source, which increases the blood circulation and reduces the stiffness. It is perfect for dogs that have arthritis.