What happens as your dog gets older?

April 13, 2012

How long has it been when you took the bouncing and very energetic puppy home? How time flies – years have passed quickly. The once very playful puppy that has grown into the affectionate and active playmate of the kid and to the loyal and protective pet of the family has turned into a senior citizen. Did you know that the dog that is 10 years old in human years is already 70 years old in dog years?

Dogs are naturally energetic. Some adult dogs have even retained the lively and curious nature of puppies. It may be rather hard to tell the age of the dog from the physical appearance. Dogs, unlike humans, would not have wrinkles on their faces. But if you look closely you would see the physical signs of aging. If humans would have grey hairs around the temples, dogs would have silvered hairs on the muzzle. The skin that has become drier will be covered with thinning fur. The once strong teeth are now chipped and showing signs of wear and tear. The foot pads have thickened and calluses have developed on the elbows.

Now that the dog is old, it would need a little more extra attention from the family. The dog may no longer be the playmate of the kid or the jogging body but it will remain to be the sweet and loyal pet of the family. The dog may no longer be inclined to join in the strenuous activities but it would stay close to the family members. The dog will be seen slowly following its favorite person around or lying down at the master’s feet to snooze the day away. The dog’s metabolism will change because of the decreased energy. Dogs are happy eaters thus they will consume the same amount of food. The dog will put on weight. Obesity paves the way for the development of various health concerns. It is will be your responsibility to match the amount of food ration to the kind of activity the dog has lest diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure and other health concerns associated with being overweight develops. Aside from reducing the amount of food, it would be a good idea to change the diet of the pet to one that has less fat and more fiber. Constipation is a common problem of geriatric dogs. More fiber in the diet will make the pet go regularly.

Various aches and pains are normal complaints of senior people. The dog will suffer from these muscle and joints pains as well. This is one of the reasons why the dog is less active. Stiffness and joint pains make it difficult for the dog to move around. An orthopedic bed, elevated feeders and ramps would be a big help in accommodating the stiff movements of the dog. The maintenance of healthy muscle tone is important. It is therefore important to urge the dog to be more active. The pet may no longer be inclined to run but an easier exercise routine would do the dog a lot of good. Several short walk a day will maintain the flexibility of the muscles. As the dog gets older, expect the body functions to decline. The heart and the lungs will not perform as efficiently as they use to. Regular exercise will help combat these natural effects of aging.

Now that the loyal friend is old, you need to give the dog more love and attention. The dog would need more care especially when it starts to forget its housebreaking training. The dog may now have accidents inside the house. Because of health concerns associated with aging, the pet would need more frequent visit to the vet. Now will be your time to repay the pet for all the love, loyalty and protection it has given to the family.

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