(DOGS/PETS) Just like humans, dogs must also go through the stages of growing old. Little by little, you’ll notice that your lovable companion can’t do the things they used to when he/she was just a pup.

As your dog ages, his/her reaction time tends to slow down, their bladder-holding abilities become less impressive, among other signs of aging.

That being said, caring for a senior dog is very different from caring for a younger dog. You must adapt how you show love and care to your aging companion, which may include adjusting their diet, modifying your dog’s home, and more trips to the vet.

Check out these five great tips on keeping your aging dog comfortable and healthy.

Pets need special care in their old age. Photo Credit: Top-dogs-name.com
Pets need special care in their old age. Photo Credit: Top-dogs-name.com

1. Let them eat a nutritious diet

During your pet’s younger years, you might be giving them the traditional calorie-rich kibbles easily bought from major pet stores. However, as your dog ages, a high-caloric diet might be inappropriate. Since older dogs are typically less mobile or active, he/she might be prone to getting fat with the same dog diet.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the main objectives in feeding an older dog are to maintain health and optimum body weight, prevent chronic diseases, and minimize clinical signs of diseases that are already present.

So, for a nutritious diet fit for your aging dog, you could ask your vet what’s best based on his/her individual nutritional requirements.

Pets have an incredible ability to make us happier and feel better. Photo Credit: Animal Planet
Older dogs still need an exercise regimen to curb weight and stress levels. Photo Credit: Animal Planet

2. Don’t forget the exercise

Along with a nutritious diet, you shouldn’t forget helping your dog with their exercise regimen. Going up and down the stairs serves as a good indoor exercise for aging dogs. If stairs are not within reach, you could provide him/her with a ramp to walk on.

As for an outdoor exercise, you could take your senior dog for a short morning walk. If you are used to walking your dog around the park or neighborhood for half an hour or longer, try taking your aging dog for a 15-minute walk instead. Another great outdoor exercise is swimming. It helps to exercise your dog’s muscles without experiencing pain in their joints.

Exercising can greatly help manage your dog’s weight and stress levels. Depending on what your vet recommends, it’s best not to overdo exercising with an aging dog.

3. Provide dental health

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Pets should receive a teeth cleaning from their vet every six months or so. Photo Credit: dogster.com

As your dog ages, he/she can become more prone to infections from his/her teeth. Once a dental disease gets worse, it can also cause problems in their heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and bladder. If these major organs are affected, your senior dog could show signs/symptoms of illness such as panting, frequent sneezing, difficulty urinating, and more.

Make sure to regularly brush your dog’s teeth with a long-handled toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for dogs. You could also provide your pet with dog chew toys to massage their gums and keep their teeth clean. Also, make sure to visit your vet at least twice a year for a teeth cleaning.

4. Make some adjustments in your home

Since your senior dog has lessened mobility, you could try helping him/her to easily get around your house by making some small adjustments. If your pet loves to nap atop a piece of furniture, place a ramp or stool for them to comfortably climb since he/she may not be able to jump as high anymore. Or if your home has a slippery floor, you might want to consider carpeting or an area rug to help your pet stable their footing.

And for bed time, add some soft blankets in his/her sleeping area to prevent joint pain. For a more comfortable night’s sleep, you could also consider dog orthopedic beds which are great for pets with arthritis.

Spaying or neutering your pet helps reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Photo credit: Roy Sanborn
Making some small adjustments in your home could make a big difference for your aging pet. Photo credit: Roy Sanborn

5. Regular visit to the vet

Vets recommend senior pets should pay a visit two times a year or more to watch for health-related issues. A regular visit to the vet could help prevent your dog from developing illnesses early on.

— Jordan Walker, exclusive to Global Animal

Jordan is the lead content curator for Coops And Cages as well as a couple of other pet-related blogs. His passion for animals is only matched by his love for ‘attempting’ to play the guitar. If you would like to catch him, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @CoopsAndCages.

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