Simple guideline for caring for the older dog

It is sad but inevitable that the best friend which once had boundless energy and agility will eventually succumb to old age. With that in mind here are some simple recommendations designed to help extend the health and happiness of your dog in their latter years :

A general loss of your dogs hearing ability is inevitable at around 10 years old and allowances should be made for this. Show patience with your dog since the simple fact is that they may no longer be able to respond as promptly to obedience commands as before. Develop alternative means of communications such as arm and hand signals to replace verbal commands.

Proper dietary care is essential for the older dog. Low cost bulk foods, scraps and leftovers whilst less of an issue for the younger dog are unlikely to provide the correct nutrients, vitamins and minerals needed to keep your ageing pet healthy. Although it will cost more treat the older dog to a high quality commercial dog food from one of the well known established manufacturers.

The older dog is likely to lose muscle as the natural part of the ageing process which results in them being less able to support their bodies when at rest. This muscle wastage results in extra pressure on their elbows and hocks resulting in aching limbs and disturbed sleeping patterns. A simple but effective solution is to introduce more deep and softer bedding which will now tend to mould itself around the dog’s body contours and provide welcome support to those aching limbs.

It maybe all the rage but polished wooden floors are a slipping hazard and a potential source of muscle and tendon damage to the older dog. It may look funny seeing Bobby sliding and legs splaying on the shiny surface but this is definitely no laughing matter for the older dog. If possible such areas most frequented by your dog should now be avoided or at least areas covered with a carpet runner.

The older dog particularly those suffering with arthritis may find difficulty in bending to access their feeding bowl making eating an uncomfortable experience. If you observe such a problem a simple remedy is to raise the bowl on a stand or box to allow the dog to eat at their normal standing height.

Stair falls are one of the most common sources of injury to the older dog. Once you notice that your dog has difficulty in negotiating the stairs then serious consideration must be given to restricting him to the ground floor permanently. A child safety gate at the foot of the stairs is ideal for this purpose .

The smell of food is major factor in enticing a dog to eat. Since as a dog gets older so to will their sense of smell reduce which in turn may impact on their appetite and lead to malnourishment. One simple trick worth trying is to slightly warm the food before serving it. Warming the food produces a stronger aroma which may compensate for the dogs reduced smelling ability and encourage more normal feeding.