Caring For Your Canine Companion As He Grows Older

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Age takes a toll on all of us. Our joints start to ache, we move a little more slowly, and diseases we once considered the domain of the elderly begin to manifest. Dogs are not spared from the process of growing old. Their physical dexterity and flexibility start to decline and they become more susceptible to a variety of illnesses.

In general, smaller breeds age more slowly than larger breeds. For example, if your pooch weighs 25 pounds or less, he may not reach his golden years until 12 or 13. On the other hand, if he weighs 80 pounds or more, he might be considered a senior citizen at 7 or 8. Below, we'll explain how to care for your canine companion as he enters his twilight years.

Preventive Care

Prevention is better than reaction when it comes to the health of your dog. Schedule regular appointments with the veterinarian so she can keep tabs on his health. She'll perform a comprehensive physical examination which includes a blood count, urinalysis, test for heartworms (this is not always necessary), and a fecal exam. Many of the health-related issues that older canines suffer from are dismissed by their owners as unresolvable due to old age. Often, these issues can be treated.

Common Issues In Older Dogs

To be sure, canines of all ages suffer from a variety of ailments. As they grow older, some illnesses become far more prevalent. For example, dental issues such as periodontal disease becomes more likely with age. So too, does arthritis as the cartilage between the bones wears down. Also, obesity is more common in older dogs than younger ones due to less activity and a slower metabolism. Other issues include problems with the endocrine glands, prostate (in the absence of neutering), and the development of tumors.

Adding to the growing likelihood of health issues is the fact the older canines' immune systems becomes weaker with age. Their bodies are less able to repair themselves making some problems difficult to resolve.

Prevention And Care At Home

As noted, owners should schedule routine veterinary check-ups for their dogs. It's also important to ensure your pooch receives the nutrients he needs through a balanced diet. Younger pups need nutrients for growth and development; older canines need them to maintain their health. Exercise is vital for joint mobility, muscle maintenance, and weight management, so try to schedule daily walks. Also, make sure he has easy access to drinking water so he can keep hydrated.

Because arthritis is so common in older dogs, consider buying a ramp for your pooch to use to climb into your car, onto furniture, or to other elevated places. And of course, provide all of the medications your veterinarian prescribes to control any existing conditions.

The older your dog gets, the more he'll need your care and attention to maintain his health. His ongoing companionship makes it all worthwhile.

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Avrum Elmakis has 1 articles online

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Caring For Your Canine Companion As He Grows Older

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This article was published on 2010/03/31