Helping Your Dog Age Gracefully
One of the things that makes dogs so special is that they are lifelong companions. Loyal and
loving, your dog will want to be by your side all the time. And you’ll probably want the same
too. But that great thing about dogs is also one of the things that people fail to think about in
the early years. In case you didn’t know, dogs age! And they do so must faster than humans. In
what might seem like a short time to you, your energetic little friend can go from puppy, to
mature adult, to senior. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with older dogs. On the
contrary, most people find that caring for their dog in his later year to be extremely rewarding.
Nonetheless, just like you wouldn’t care for a puppy in the same way you would an adult dog,
senior dogs require their own set of rules.
Some of these facts are basic things to remember. For example, older dogs (just like older
people) are more sensitive to extreme temperature. When an intense heat wave or cold snap
hits, the oldest people have the hardest time dealing with it. The same is true for older dogs, so
try to keep that in mind. Of course, even older dogs still look cute and cuddly to us, so it can be
easy to forget that they have special needs in their old age.
Just because your dog is older, doesn’t mean you don’t want to give them exercise. But you
should be more sensitive about how hard you’re working them. Older dogs dehydrate easier,
and also can’t regulate their body temperature as easily. So what might have been an easy
exercise when they were younger, can suddenly lead to heat stroke or other injuries when they
get on in age.
We’ve all see dog food at the pet store labelled as “senior formula.” We also know that
advertising isn’t always what it claims. Are there special diets you can give your senior dog? Yes,
of course! But just because something is labelled senior formula at the pet store doesn’t make
it so. First, you have to remember that there are no legal regulations surrounding what goes
into these different formulas. Second, every dog is different and what works for one might not
work for another. Instead of simply switching to a senior formula of dog food right off the bat,
talk to your vet and see what they recommend.
Speaking of food, you’ll want to be extra sensitive to your dog’s weight as they get older. Of
course, this will be easier to do if you’ve been good about managing your dog’s diet throughout
their life. In any case, as dogs get older, joint pain and arthritis become more of an issue. That
few extra pounds that didn’t seem to bother your little friend when he was five, can suddenly
be a big deal when he’s nine. The more overweight a senior dog is, the less likely he is to stay
Remember, your dog’s senior years can be just as rewarding, if not more so, than when the
little guy was younger. But if you want to get the most out of these years and make your dog’s
later years fun and comfortable, it takes a little planning, and a lot of sensitivity.