If you’re reading this, chances are pretty good you’re a pet lover. All of us want to enjoy a long and happy life with our pets, and many of us start out with that first visit or two to the veterinarian and the pet supply store…but then we settle into complacency as owning our pets becomes as “everyday” as brushing our teeth.
There are things you can do at home to be proactive on keeping our pets healthy.
- Check your pet’s mouth, ears and eyes regularly. Watch for loose teeth, redness, swelling or discharge.
- Keep your pet’s sleeping area clean and warm. Wash and vacuum the bedding and replace as needed.
- Groom your pet often. Not only will it keep his coat nice and healthy, but it gives you an opportunity to detect any unusual sores or lumps you may otherwise miss.
- Make fresh water available at all times! Water is essential for good health.
- Maintain a routine of proper nutrition (and that includes quality snacks if you give them to your dog), exercise and loving attention.
Owners should be mindful of and watch for common problems.
Obesity is a huge health risk. Older dogs are less active and adjustments to their diet to reduce caloric intake are a must! This helps relieve pressure on joints as well as manage the risks of heart failure, kidney or liver disease, digestive problems and more. A few other senior savvy dietary changes would include increasing fiber, fatty acids and vitamins while decreasing sodium, protein and fat.
The severity of Arthritis varies from slight stiffness to debilitation. A good exercise program, which can help maintain muscle tone and mass, can be adjusted to suit his conditional needs. Of course there are anti-inflammatory medication to help relieve the pain, and your veterinarian will be able to prescribe any necessary medication.
An older pet can have an intolerance to hot and cold temperatures because he produces less of the hormones which regulate the body’s normal temperature. Move his bed closer to a heater and bring him indoors on cold days.
Tooth loss or decay not only makes it harder to chew but also increases the likelihood of infection or tumors. Brushing and cleaning the teeth will help keep these to a minimum.
Prostate enlargement or Mammary Gland Tumors is mostly diagnosed in unneutered or unspayed dogs. Have the prostate or mammary glands examined at checkups.
Even if your dog never had Separation Anxiety, it may present itself when older dogs can’t cope with stress. Aggressive behavior, noise phobia, increased barking and whining or restless sleep are a few signs. Medication combined with behavior modification techniques are key.
Skin or coat problems in aging dogs means the skin loses elasticity, making your pet more susceptible to injury while the coat’s hair thins and dulls over time. Grooming more often and fatty acid supplements are highly beneficial.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction manifests itself in confusion, disorientation or decreased activity. Medication can help solve some of these issues.
Here’s to many long, loving, memorable years with all of our pets. And while you’re at it, be sure to take care of yourself, too! Your pet is counting on us!