Taking care of an old dog can be challenging at times. It is hard to watch your vivacious pet age, but know that there are things you can do to make the process easier, and to keep your pet healthier longer. My family and I have been caring for a 13-year-old dog who is just as spunky as ever! She has had her fair share of ailments, but is doing extremely well considering her age. The following lists a few tips for taking care of an old dog.
1. Be Attentive to Changes
One of the best tips for taking care of an old dog is to be attentive to changes in their behavior. If your elderly dog starts limping or having trouble getting up, this could mean that they have a joint issue, which is very common in elderly dogs. If they start rapidly losing or gaining weight, have drastic changes in the amount they are eating or drinking, or are not able to control their bladder, these could be all signs of a more serious problem. Noticing these changes is an important step to getting your dog the help needed to live a longer, healthier life.
2. Visit the Vet Regularly
In addition to noticing changes in your dog, it is important to consult a professional (namely, a veterinarian) regarding these changes. Your vet has a wealth of experience in dealing with all kinds of pet health problems. They are a great resource and can perform tests and make suggestions as to how best to care for your dog's ailments.
Keeping your dog at a healthy weight can be difficult, and this often gets harder to do as they age. Exercising your dog regularly is one way to help keep their weight at a normal level. If you notice your dog struggling to go on long runs with you, try going on short, scenic walks to keep them active! These walks can be a nice break for both you and your dog.
4. Maintain a Healthy Diet
In addition to exercise, making sure your dog is eating a healthful diet is important to maintaining a healthy weight. The first step to a healthful diet is monitoring what your dog consumes in a given day. (And yes, that means all the scraps they find as well.) The next step is to compare your dog's diet to what a dog of their particular breed should be eating per day. Last (and most difficult), is to make the necessary changes to your dog's diet. Again, you don't have to deprive your dog of all treats; just make sure they are not excessive and harmful to your pet's well-being.
5. Find a Good Dog-Sitter
It is hard to leave your old dog, but at times work trips or family emergencies can leave your dog without you and the care they are used to. To help with times you cannot be with your dog, make sure you find a good pet sitter who understands the accommodations your elderly dog needs. This is often an important tip when your dog has to take medication daily and you are not there to administer it. Make sure your sitter clearly understands how to care for your dog and has a way of getting in contact with you if they have any questions.
6. Create a Safe Environment
When my dog turned 13, she started losing her sight. If you notice your dog is starting to lose their ability to see clearly, try to keep their environment as safe as you can. For instance, my family had to section off a portion of the backyard after my dog accidentally fell into our pool. We rescued her immediately, but learned she needed a fool-proof area to play in, where her lack of sight wouldn't inhibit her safety.
7. Give Them Lots of Love
Ultimately, the best thing you can do for elderly dogs is give them lots of love. Dogs are such loving creatures, and they deserve to be loved, no matter what! Taking a bit of time out of your day to pet or cuddle with your dog can make all the difference in the world, for both your dog and you.
While taking care of an old dog can be difficult at times, there are many things you can do to make the transition into old age easier. What are some things you do to keep your old dog happy and healthy?