Americans love their dogs, About 46.3 million households have at least one pet dog. That number represents between 47 and 47% of all American households. Pet lovers across the country spend about $13.59 billion every year for treatment by veterinarians for their animals. Dogs need different levels of care as they age. Caring for a puppy is very different from caring for senior dogs.
- Feed them a diet that is appropriate for their age. All animals (including humans) undergo changes in their metabolism as they age. This is due to a number of things including changes in their activity level. When dogs age and enter middle age, they suffer from a number of problems common in all aging animals. Some gain weight. This is something that is just as unhealthy for them as for people. Senior dogs need a well balanced diet that is full of healthy protein, which is important for dogs at all stages of their lives.
- Keep your dog on a regular exercise regimen. Consistent and regular exercise is important to all dogs. Dogs who are used to running can still run when they get to be older, you will just have to go slower and not as far. As dogs age, they do not lose the desire to spend time outside with their human companions. They may suffer from joint pain. Low impact exercise is best for older dogs. Dogs who limp or cry when they are done with a run or a romp outside should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Do not give your dog any of your over the counter medication for joint pain. This can be very dangerous. They may have a lot of the same problems as people experience but they cannot tolerate the same drugs that humans can. Tylenol can kill dogs, for instance.
- Take your dog outside more to pee. As they age, dogs lose the ability to control some of their bodily functions. Senior dog care includes giving them more chances to go pee when they need to. When caring for senior dogs, many people who work find it necessary to hire dog walkers and pet sitters to take their dogs out for more walks during the day. You can also buy products that they can pee on when you are not at home.
- Older dogs need entertainment, too. When you first got your dog, you probably bought them all sorts of toys and other things to keep them happy and entertained. You should continue to do this as they age. Aging dogs are typically less active than younger ones but they still like to play and need to be entertained. Keeping your dog happy is a big part of keeping them healthy. The two go hand in hand with each other.
- Your older dog needs a more comfortable place to sleep. Another of the changes in older dogs is the amount of time they spend resting, relaxing and sleeping. One way to make them happier at this phase of their lives is to get them a nice, comfy bed. This will also take some pressure off of their joints and bones.
- Take your older dogs to the veterinarian for health check ups. Caring for senior dogs means they need their regular check ups with their veterinarian even more than when they were younger. These are part of any good plan for animal care. The veterinarian will look for new health and dental problems and will be able to deal with them when they are small. They will also keep your older dog parasite free and make sure all of their shots are up to date.
- Brush your dog’s teeth. Tooth decay is just as much an issue for your older dog as it may be for you. Chew toys can help as can regularly brushing their teeth. A healthy diet will complement your other efforts to keep their teeth healthy.
Caring for senior dogs is similar to caring for them at earlier stages of their lives. Getting them regular check ups and exercise along with providing a healthy diet will insure they stay healthy and happy for as long as possible.