Dogs are man’s best friend. Unfortunately, no matter how well we take care of our dogs, they’re going to grow older far more rapidly than we will. Caring for an elderly dog can be difficult. Not only is it hard to see your once-spry best friend struggling to do tasks that he used to do easily, but it can be more expensive to care for an older dog and more physically demanding. If your dog is getting up there in years, here are some things you may need to start planning for.
Aches and Pains:
Just like humans, some dogs will get arthritis in their age, especially in their hips and legs. This can make it harder for them to get on and off the couch or up and down the stairs. Carrying your dog more often can be hard on your back. Over at Free Your Spine, there’s some great information on keeping your back muscles loose if you’re repeatedly straining them.
Other options to make things easier for both you and your dog include getting a floor bed for your dog so that they don’t have to get on and off the couch as often and ensuring that everything they need throughout the day is located on the first floor of your home. Some studies also suggest that adding fatty acids into your elderly dog’s diet can help with arthritis pains.
Older dogs may have digestive problems, liver disease, kidney disease, and tooth decay. Feeding your elderly dog a high-quality diet and offering dental hygiene chew toys can help your dog lead the most comfortable life possible into his senior years. And if you haven’t been getting your dog a yearly check-up so far in his life, now is the time to buckle down: Your elderly dog needs to get a checkup with a vet at least once a year to ensure any issues are caught early.
When your dog reaches a certain age, they may begin to have less control over their bladder. This can come in many forms, including no longer realizing when they need to go, or realizing when they need to go but not being able to make it outside in time. While this can be understandably frustrating for dog owners, it’s important to realize that your dog is not having accidents because they want to frustrate you, but because they can’t help it. Invest in some puppy pads for their kennel, and consider letting them out at regular intervals throughout the day rather than waiting for them to cue you.
Eyes and Ears:
As your dog grows older, he might have issues hearing or seeing. To help your canine pal out, limit how often you rearrange your home, and if you do rearrange your home, taking your dog on a guided tour so that they can figure out where the furniture is in your home. Also reduce the amount of time you let your dog off-leash, since they may not come back when called if they can’t hear you.
End of Life:
No one wants to think about it, but the cold truth is that dogs don’t live as long as humans do. If you have a dog, you know that there will come a day when you have to say goodbye. Preparing for the end of a dog’s life is not just emotional; it can also be expensive. As your dog gets on in years, it’s practical to start setting aside money to help with end-of-life expenses to ensure that you can take care of your dog respectfully in the way that you want to without putting financial stress on an already stressful time.
Your dog deserves just as much love and respect in their senior years as they did back when they were just a puppy. Know that, however hard it is for you to watch them getting older and not being able to do the same things they used to be able to do, it’s just as difficult and frustrating for them. By knowing what to look out for as he heads into his senior years and how to help, you can work together with your dog to ensure his final years are just as fun and rewarding for him as his early years were.