Dogs begin to show signs of aging between 6 and 13 years. Similar to aging humans, an older pet may experience hearing loss, vision loss, arthritis, liver or kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, etc. Regular visit to the veterinarian can detect these and be treated. The good news is with veterinary medical progress in India, your pet can live better into their geriatric years.
An older dog needs special care and attention to live a long healthy life, which include:
- Exercise your older pet moderately every day. Try not to over do it.
- Feed high-quality dog food specific to his senior dietary needs.
- Be consistent with his schedule.
- Pet and cuddle your dog frequently.
- Groom him regularly, checking for lumps and bumps.
- Keep your dog at a good weight. Suffering from obesity makes your older dog more susceptible to health problems. And this is especially important when he reaches the golden years. Since your dog’s activity level will taper off, you may want to engage in some gentle play to keep him healthy.
- Maintain a health record for your senior pet.
- It is important to keep a pet with joint pain from becoming overweight. Carrying extra weight puts more stress on joints that are already inflamed. If the pet is overweight at the time of an arthritis diagnosis, you should discuss a weight loss plan with your pet’s doctor.
- One of the most effective steps you can take as guardian to a pet with arthritis or other joint pain is to provide some extra comforts.
- While your senior dog still has control over his muscles and joints, make sure he gets the exercise he needs. Take him to daily walks and make sure he gets his heart rate up to the necessary level for optimal health.
- Senior dogs’ bones become more fragile, and their cartilage becomes worn. They are also more likely to experience loss of muscle. Make sure your dog stays mobile as long as possible and eats plenty of protein and calcium for strong bones and muscles.
- When dogs get older, their nutritional needs change. Since they’re getting less activity, their calorie needs may decrease. And they have unique needs that are different from younger dogs.
- Watch your senior pet closely, check his eyes to make sure they are properly cared for.
- Maintain your senior dog’s mind, keeping his mind healthy is as important as anything else. Play with your dog, and talk with your dog to keep your dog’s mind functioning well.
- Take your older dog to the vet often, because older dogs can be more prone to health issues, this can help identify problems.
(Sanjay Jaiswal is GM at Petcare).