There are a lot of opinions on how to take care of a senior dog, but their health really comes down to just a few basics.
The main guidelines you should follow once your dog reaches a certain age will be provided by your vet. I can’t stress the importance of finding THE vet for your pet. What I mean by that is do your research and find a vet that is good with your breed of dog and has experience with Sr. dogs. You must trust them and be comfortable enough around them to ask them any question, no matter how silly or seemingly insignificant-and hopefully that is the vet your dog has grown up with, but if not it’s time to find a new vet.
Exercise-As you know I am the super advocate of exercise in dogs!!! Exercise does wonders for dogs and can even solve behavioral problems on its own occasionally-like excess chewing. Exercise with Sr dogs is no different in the sense that they need it just as much as any young dog. What is different is the amount and the type of exercise. They must still go on walks and be challenged mentally with games and obedience-it’s just that they will respond a little slower. Remember that just like with people they need to work those muscles even if they are arthritic. It just takes them longer to move up and down, which should show you that he needs to keep doing it that much more. Ask your vet for your particular pets disabilities if any. Then, find out how to work around them. It might even come down to the only exercise he can get is swimming and you must provide that.
Food-It is so important that you feed the highest quality dog food you can afford. Ingredients are important for the entire life of the dog, but a Sr dogs system if more sensitive and it is best if the food is high in nutrients with no fillers. Unfortunately that type of dog food is higher in price. This is a great website for dog food info http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/ I also want to make a note of how important it is that your Sr. dog isn’t overweight. This will quickly cut your dogs life short so be responsible! Not to mention that your dogs last days will be miserable because the added weight will be very hard on his joints. You can also always add supplements to a dogs diet based on your vets recommendations.
Playtime-Make sure your dog is still being played with and that the whole family interacts with him on a daily basis. He should still be played with, challenged and comfortable everyday.
Health-See your vet every 6 months instead of just once a year. Ask your vet how often your dog should now be vaccinated because once your dog hits a certain age many veterinary associations suggest once every three years. Keep an extra eye on his ears and brush his teeth daily, every other day at least. Professional teeth cleaning is also advised after asking your vet. Lastly, controlling parasites is so important to prevent extra stress-so be very conscious of fleas, ticks and worm control.
Now, when it comes to disease the owner must make desicions based on money, time and resources-but if you follow the steps above you will ensure that you have done everything you can to make your dogs last years fun and comfortable. Check out our blog on specifics for arthritic dogs.