Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Loving your Senior Dog- Part 1

                                                                                                                                         Lisa Scarsi Photography
We will all come to a point in our lives when we will have to rely on our loved ones to care for us, as we can no longer care for ourselves like we use to.  When you think of that time, do you want people to start forgetting about you? Do you want your family to stop caring about your comfort, mobility, and health? No one wants to be forgotten or feel unloved as they age and neither does your dog.  Sarah and Stacy are roommates in Norco.  Sarah has a thirteen year old 40 pound mutt, Old Blue, while Stacy has a 5 year old terrier mix, Princess, and a 1 year old terrier mix, Cooper. “Old Blue has kept up his youth pretty well.  He didn’t start to really slow down until he was eleven.  Since then I have really noticed how much he would rather sleep and how quickly he tires on walks.  He doesn’t jump up into the car anymore and he can’t always seem to tell where noises are coming from when I’m calling him.”
As your dog ages there will be things that will be much harder for him to accomplish.  Simple things like climbing stairs and squatting will only become more difficult, especially if arthritis is present.  Here is a list of a few things you may look out for as your dog ages and ways to make him more comfortable in his senior years.
Climbing/Jumping- The first thing to become difficult for a dog is usually climbing steps or jumping up on the couch, bed, or into the car like he use to.  Consider buying dog steps, a ramp, or lift assistance products available on the market.  You may also consider making your own.  
Joint Care- Supplements become more important as a dog ages and his joints stiffen. Glucosamine is the number one supplement pet owners give their dog for healthy joints.
Pressure off joints while sleeping- With joints becoming stiffer and arthritis kicking in, life can become pretty miserable for a senior dog.  You may consider giving your dog an orthopedic or memory foam dog bed to sleep on (that way he won’t have to try to jump on/off your bed or couch).  
Loss of ability to regulate body temperature- As dogs age they lose the ability to regulate their body temperature like they use to.  For this reason you do not want give your senior dog vigorous exercise in hot weather.  On the flip side, if the weather is cold and/or damp, consider giving him a coat to wear.  His joints will thank you too.

Massages- If your senior dog likes to sleep most of the day it can be easy to forget about him.  But he is still there and would love a little extra TLC.  Massages are beneficial to dogs in multiple ways, such as calming them, easing aching muscles, increasing immune systems, improving blood circulation, releasing stress and aiding injuries.
Sudden aggression- As older dogs start lose their sight and hearing they are startled much easier (since they don’t hear people or other animals approaching).  That combined with pain from arthritis (or any other ailment) can create an irritable dog.  Teach children to respect your older dog and give him space.  Leave him alone when he is sleeping and pet him gently when he is awake.  Don’t let small children or puppies get too wild or rough with your senior dog either; someone is bound to get hurt.
Sarah comments on having younger dogs in the house with Old Blue, and how it has its ups and its downs.  “The younger dogs definitely keep him acting younger than he is.  Some days he will pop up and run around the house like he was 1 year old again.  And other days he’s just a grumpy old man.”
To be continued….  

No comments:

Post a Comment