Help them grow old gracefully

Young vs old

The requirements of a dog are different at various stages. Their body structure changes and so does their activity and physiology. In old age, they may either put on weight or become lean as they are entirely dependent on you.

Taking care of food

Since the movements of dogs are restricted in old age, they require less calories. Here’s how to manage their diet.

  • Provide him food with less fat content.
  • Give him less treats. Whatever treats you give, count them in the total intake of calories.
  • Feed him small meals at frequent intervals for proper absorption of food.
  • Provide food in non-slippery bowls.
  • For dogs suffering from arthritis, it is recommended to place their bowl at a height where they do not need to bend downward for taking food.

Taking care of exercises

Elderly dogs have problems while getting up. The presence of lameness and back problems can result in painful movements. Here’s how to make it easier for them.

  • Support him while he is trying to get up.
  • Massage his joints to relieve the stiffness and keep them active.
  • Take him out for mild exercises and short walks to rejuvenate his mind and body.
  • Do not make him do strenuous exercises.
  • Playing, swimming, etc reduces arthritic problems and keeps his hearts and lungs healthy.

Taking care of vision and hearing challenges

In old age, dogs will not respond to your commands and may bump into tables, walls and other things. Here’s how to make it easier for him to move around.

  • When hearing is impaired, speak to him in a higher voice.
  • When vision is impaired, remove pointed things from your house.
  • Do not change the settings of furniture in the house as he has a mental picture of the previous setting.
  • If there is a pool in the garden, fence it properly.
  • Take him out for a walk on a leash.
  • Clean his eyes twice a day with sterile water to prevent eye infections and mucous deposit.

Taking care of teeth

The teeth of your pooch may become discoloured and smelly. Tartar is more around the teeth due to saliva and food articles left on the teeth. The bacteria proliferate and enter in the gums and roots of the teeth causing tooth infection, which in turn results in bad breath, pain in teeth, etc. For preventing such state, regular brushing is advisable. Dental chews after the meals are also helpful. Descaling and routine antibiotics are also recommended.

General tips for their care

Here are a few general tips to follow to make old age easier for your pooch.

  • If the floors are slippery, put carpets on it as it can become a source of injury on the limbs and joints.
  • Groom him regularly to avoid hair and skin problems.
  • Ears should be cleaned regularly to avoid blockage of ear canal with wax.
  • Trim his nails regularly.
  • Use warm water for bathing him.
  • Use a mild dog shampoo.
  • After bathing, dry him completely with a towel as they may catch cold.
  • Add extra gentleness while you pet and groom him.
  • Use a soft neck collar for him.
  • Apply Vaseline to his pads and cracks.
  • If cracks appear on nose, apply Vaseline to keep it moist.
  • To avoid boredom, take him for rides and shopping.
  • Provide him a soft bed as he lies most of the time and can develop callousness on joints and bony prominence.
  • Perform a routine check up to avoid infections.
  • Trim the hair around the anus so that stools do not stick to them.
  • In cold weather, make him wear a smart coat to avoid chill.
  • Give him incessant love, care and petting. If all these points are kept in mind, your dog will have a comfortable old age and it’s a little price for all the love you get back from him!!!

(Dr G S Bedi is a gold medallist ISVS, holder of the Limca Book of Records and he is president of PFA Jalandhar.

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