Dogs can live long and happy lives, but their health largely depends on the care they get from their owner and veterinarian. As the owner of an older dog, it is better to act in a preventative manner than in a reactive one. Here are some preventative care tips you can implement to keep your senior dog healthier and more comfortable and hopefully to also extend his or her life.
1. Attend regular vet appointments
Maybe you've taken your dog to the vet for a checkup every one or two years up until this point. Once your dog reaches the age of about 10, consider increasing those vet visits to every 6 months. When you see the vet more often, they are able to keep better track of any changes in your dog's health. Problems are more likely to be caught early when they are easier to diagnose and treat.
2. Switch to a senior food
Switch your dog over to a dog food made specifically for senior dogs. Not only do these foods contain different nutrients that are essential for senior dogs, but they are also made to be more digestible and easier to chew. They may come in smaller kibble or be softer. If you do not feed your dog wet food, this is also a good time to add a wet food to their diet. Your vet can recommend a specific brand based on your dog's needs.
3. Ask about arthritis medications and supplements
Just like humans, most dogs do develop some degree of arthritis as they age. Your vet can flex your dog's joints and let you know if they feel any arthritic changes. If they do detect changes, which is very common, they can prescribe a supplement or medication to help keep your dog's joints looser and more comfortable. Glucosamine is a common one.
4. Keep him or her active
Staying active is actually what's best for your senior dog. You should make sure your dog is able to get plenty of gentle exercise. Take him or her for daily walks around the block. Play fetch in the yard for 15 minutes each day. Visit the dog park once a week. Anything that keeps your dog moving will be good for his or her joints and heart as aging continues.
With the tips above, and you and your vet can take better care of your senior dog. Show them lots of love in these golden years. For more information, contact a veterinary clinic like Third Street Veterinary.