Guest Blog By Nick Burton, Our Best Doggo
Are you the proud parent of a senior pup? Whether you raised your canine companion from his youth or recently adopted an oldie-but-goodie, there are plenty of ways you can ensure your friend’s golden years are wrapped in love, joy, and comfort. Read on for terrific tips to help you and your older dog make every moment count.
Health and Wellness
Aging dogs, just like aging people, tend to experience a decline in health. Sometimes, it happens very gradually, and other times it can occur quite suddenly. For example, older dogs frequently experience what is termed vestibular disease. This issue can quickly impair your dog’s balance, leaving him staggering and disoriented. Sometimes, dogs recover, but other times the effects linger for the rest of your dog’s life.
Another common concern is dementia. Your dog might experience symptoms like losing track of where he is in familiar places or more anxiety than in the past, or he might not interact with other pets or people as much as before. There are supplements and behavioral therapies that can help support senior dogs experiencing cognitive issues like dementia, so it’s important to talk with your vet if you suspect your older pup is showing symptoms.
These are just a few of the health issues that can affect older dogs. Your veterinarian can diagnose problems as they come along, and will often notice changes in routine exams. With that in mind, it’s important to schedule visits with your vet at least twice a year. The Grey Muzzle Organization explains senior dog exams might include things like diagnostic blood work, vaccines, and dental checks.
Senior-Friendly Equipment Ideas
Beyond veterinary and medical care, how you support your dog during his golden years can extend into everyday life, such as when your dog has mobility concerns. Equipment can make all the difference in allowing your dog to continue enjoying an active role in family life. For instance, dogs with severe mobility concerns might need a wheelchair. These devices are typically designed to fit your dog’s size and can assist front, back, or both sets of legs.
More commonly, dogs with arthritis use dog ramps or steps to climb onto furniture, laps, or into cars. Pet Life Today notes these helpful pieces of equipment come in lightweight, portable options, as well as more substantial styles to leave in place. Just be sure to examine the size and design to match it to your dog’s needs and the space where it will be used.
Another concern parents of senior pups experience is how to lift Fido without hurting him. Even if he is normally a floor type of guy, you might need to help him get in and out of the car or up and down steps if he becomes ill or injured. There are lifting harnesses you can purchase to keep on hand, or you can DIY a lifter from a shopping tote in a pinch. Just cut off the two narrow ends and loop the handled sections under your pup’s belly so it supports him fully.
Supplements and So Forth
One of the many ways dog owners can help their furry friends is with supportive supplements. As VetStreet explains, many of the vitamins, minerals, and other supplements available for senior dogs are potentially helpful, such as probiotics, fatty acids, and glucosamine with chondroitin sulfate. Before you add something to your dog’s health regimen, check in with your vet to ensure the supplement won’t interfere with other therapies.
As the proud parent of a senior pup, ensuring your friend’s health and happiness is a top priority. Make sure your dog is getting his medical needs met, check into assistive equipment, and think about supplements that could give him a boost. With your thoughtful choices, your beloved companion will enjoy the love, joy, and comfort he so deserves.
Christine Durrant, CPDT-KA Professional Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant