Saturday, June 16, 2012

Guest Post: How to Care for your Older Dog

Eric Bogard works for Pet Dreams, a designer of high quality, orthopedic memory foam dog beds.  He is a fan and advocate of everything Pit Bulls, taking care of his clown in black and white clothing named Pepper.  You can find Pet Dreams on Twitter and Facebook.

How to Care for your Older Dog

The old adage holds that a single human year is the equivalent of 7 dog years.  Just like with people, however, age is just a number -there are numerous factors that contribute to the physiological aging process, and your dogs' breed is a good place to start.  As a general rule of thumb small dogs live longer than large ones, though all breeds have their own aging traits and predispositions for certain diseases and health issues. 
Aging is of course inevitable and part of life.  Like with grandpa, as your dog gets older you're likely to see graying in the muzzle, reduced hearing and sight, deteriorating strength and muscle mass, increased time sleeping, and general slowing down.  To provide the upmost comfort for your senior dog and ensure he or she lives as long as possible follow these general guidelines.  Of course, consult with your veterinarian with any large adjustments and always ensure your dog receives regular checkups.

Provide Proper Nutrition

As your dog ages his or her nutritional needs will change.  Aside from requiring fewer calories senior dogs will need additional fiber to ensure gastrointestinal health, all while maintaining optimal levels of protein and fat.  Many commercial foods now offer senior formulas -it is vet recommended that you purchase the highest quality food you can afford as inferior dog foods can be difficult to digest, are often inconsistent, and may be nutritionally inferior to higher quality foods.

Ensure Proper Exercise

The correct level and amount of exercise will help ensure your dog stays fit and at a proper weight, toned, healthy, and stimulated.  With reduced energy, however, you'll need to adjust accordingly the frequency and intensity of the activity.  Likewise, if your dog is stiff or has arthritis (see below) you'll need to make further adjustments including varying the type of exercise and making access to the outdoors as easy as possible.

Manage Stiffness and Arthritis

Unfortunately, as arthritis is often inevitable the name of the game is pain management.  So your dog doesn't need to suffer there are several effective drugs that your vet can prescribe to provide comfort.  Additionally there are many high quality supplement available on the market including Glucosamine and Vitamin C.
There are several additional measures that you can easily follow.  For example, if your dog has difficulty managing stairs or getting in and out of the car use ramps and other tools to ensure easy access to the outdoors and areas of the house.  Additionally, orthopedic dog beds, made with memory foam, are a relatively new product that are specifically designed to relive joint pain by providing support, reliving pressure points, and improving circulation. 

Look to the Teeth

The root of many health issues can, believe it or not, be traced to the teeth.  Common in most older dogs, poor dental care can lead to tartar, inflammation of the gums, and gingivitis.  This very bacteria can negatively impact the entire body including the major organ systems.  Accordingly, proper dental care and cleaning is pivotal to the health of your dog.  Depending on the dental severity your veterinarian will make suggestions ranging from general cleaning to more intrusive procedures. 

It goes without saying, but unconditional love should come first and foremost to keep your dog happy and satisfied as he or she enters a new phase in their life! 

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