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Best Practices for Keeping Your Aging Pet Healthy

Senior citizen at age 6 or 7—time flies

photo of a preson shaking the paw of an older dogIt comes as a shock to some pet owners that although small dogs generally live longer, they are considered geriatric at the age of 7; and larger dogs have shorter life spans and are considered senior citizens at age 6. So if you have a geriatric canine, listen up, your dog’s health needs have changed. Work with your vet at Whitworth Animal Clinic and follow these Best Practices to make sure your pet remains happy and healthy in his golden years.

Regular visits to the vet.

Healthy young dogs visit the vet one time per year. Consider taking your senior canine for bi-annual vet visits. The physical exam could reveal a problem which, if treated early, could save your pet from suffering.

Just as their human counterparts, dogs develop more health issues as they age:

  • Arthritis
  • Heart, kidney, and liver disease
  • Dental problems
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Bi-annual vet visit will give you a chance to discuss changes in your dog’s habits:

  • Food/water consumption
  • Changes in urinary and bowel habits
  • Irritability
  • Hearing, vision, or sleep
  • Mobility

Consider changing your dog’s diet:

  • Older dogs are less active so they gain weight
  • Some canine health conditions can be managed through diet
  • Vitamin and nutrient requirements change

There are foods on the market that target the special needs of senior pets. It’s best to consult with Dr. Whitworth about the type of food that will meet your pet’s nutrition requirements.

Modify your pet’s environment and routine to maintain good mental and physical health, and mobility:

  • Make sure your dog exercises regularly
  • Interact with your pet to keep his mind active. Keep him social and provide treats to encourage active chewing
  • Provide a comfortable bed with extra padding. Move the bed as needed to help the dog avoid stairs
  • Allow your pet to stay indoors. Remember, slippery wood floors are dangerous as pets age
  • Buy steps or a ramp to help your dog get to a favorite resting spot
  • Help your canine friend get in and out of the car

So true

Your pet has been a good friend. Dan Gemeinhart, author of The Honest Truth says, “Dogs die. But dogs live, too. Right up until they die, they live. They live brave, beautiful lives. They protect their families. And love us. And make our lives a little brighter. And they don’t waste time being afraid of tomorrow.”

Take good care of your canine friend so he will live to love [YOU] another day.

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