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Dogs and Old Age, How To Care For Your Aging Canine

Now that you're dog has shown you so much love and brought you so much joy throughout your many years together, it's time that you return the favor when the dog reaches his elder years. Caring for an older dog is much like caring for an elderly person. Knowing how to do that will help comfort your dog immensely.

What's old for a dog?

The first thing that you've probably heard is the seven-year rule (that your dog ages seven times faster than a human). While this is pretty much accurate, some dogs (or breeds of dogs) show signs of aging earlier than others. So, you're going to have to know what signs to look for to ascertain whether your dog has officially reached his "golden years."

Senility is not just for humans.

If your dog is older than seven (human years), then he's officially becoming older. While some dogs may show signs far after seven, you may notice some of the following characteristics once he reaches an older age. You may notice that your dog has lost some of his housetraining skills. He may soil or wet the area, especially through the night when lying down. He may have trouble chewing food due to loose teeth and sore gums. He may suffer from cataracts or even partial or full blindness. He may gain weight more easily. Weigh your dog every couple of months. If you notice large lumps under his skin, it's advised that you consult your veterinarian, as this may be a sign of a possible tumor or cancer. Your dog may even become grumpier.

While it's impossible to cure all of the maladies that accompany age, you can comfort your dog and make his older life enjoyable.

Medication can help

There are many drugs out there that can help your dog. While it's not advised to give your pet too many medications, there are some that can help if he's suffering joint or hip pain. If your dog seems extra tired or sore one day, go ahead and skip his daily exercise routine. If it last more than a couple of days, talk with your vet. Install a partial ramp over the steps to and from your house so that your dog doesn't have to deal with the harsh incline on his joints. Massage and rub your dog's muscles. Studies have shown that physio- or hydrotherapy can be extremely beneficial in your dog's elder years.

Grooming offers relief

Be sure to clip your older dog's nails as he probably doesn't run about as much as when he was younger. The nails won't naturally keep trimmed down, so you'll have to be sure to keep his nails under control. If you don't want to do it yourself, veterinarians usually provide this service. Your dog may become senile. While this is normal, some cases are so severe that they are compared to Alzheimer's. There are dog drugs, like those given to human Alzheimer's patents that have proven effective.

Routines are welcome

Be sure that you keep your dog on a regular routine. Exercise him daily. Control his weight. Buy high-quality food and groom, pet and cuddle with your dog frequently. Visit your vet at least once a year to screen for diseases. Buy an orthopedic bed mat for your older dog.

Disabilities can occur

If your dog is blind or nearly there, you can make a home solution of vinegar mixed with water to spray (about nose high) onto door frames and sofas so he doesn't run into them. Also, don't move furniture around. For deaf dogs, tell everyone (especially children), not to approach your dog too quickly. Be sure that the dog sees anyone coming towards him.

Caring for an older dog can be just as hard as caring for a puppy. Your dog will take kindly to the adaptations you've made, which will make his "golden years" truly shine.

About the Author:
Tina Spriggs is an expert dog lover whose lifelong interest in canines provides the motivation for her site. To learn more about dogs or to find gifts and toys for them visit her site at Dog Gifts and Toys for Dog Lovers.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

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