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Caring for Your Older Dog | CanadaVet

Veterinary care has made amazing advancements over recent years. As a result, pets are living longer lives, which gives them more time to lavish affection on their owners. But, aging pets do require special care to ensure their golden years are happy and healthy.

A brown dog with a greying muzzle lies on a white bed

The Senior Years

Not all animals enter their golden years at the same time. Cats, for example, tend to outlive dogs. Similarly, smaller breeds of dogs outlive larger dogs. As a result, the senior years of larger dogs come before the senior years of cats or smaller dogs. In fact, large breeds of dogs can be considered senior at just 5 years old, while a smaller dog may not be considered a senior until it is around 10 or 13 years old. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you for sure if your pet has reached the senior stage of their life.

An older looking Golden Retriever lying on the floor with a tennis ball between it's paws looks off to the side

Controlling Pain

One problem many aging pets have to cope with is pain. This pain can be either acute or chronic. Acute pain comes on suddenly and is usually associated with injury. Chronic pain, however, comes on slowly and lasts for a long time. Arthritis, for example, causes chronic pain. To avoid both chronic and acute pain, you need to make sure your senior pet remains active and gets plenty of exercise. You might also want to consider using natural supplements such as PAW Osteocare Joint Health Chews or Joint Guard Powder for Dogs which will help manage their arthritis.

Veterinary Examination

In addition to helping your pet deal with pain, you should keep a regular veterinary schedule. Vet exams are the best way to catch diseases associated with old age while they are still in their early stages. The earlier the disease is caught, the better the chances of fixing the problem. Your aging pet should see the vet at least once every 6 months. While at the vet, your pet should receive a parasite evaluation, a blood-chemistry panel, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. Any recommendations your vet provides should be followed closely and be sure to ask questions if you are unsure of what you need to do to properly care for your pet.

A small brown and white dog is being examined by a female veterinarian in a white coat

Side Effects of Aging

As your pet gets older, the likelihood of developing certain diseases is increased. Therefore, you need to be sure to keep an especially close eye on changes and possible signs of problems. A sudden weight gain or loss or a sudden increase or decrease in appetite are both signs of problems. Constipation, diarrhea for more than three days, repeated vomiting, and difficulty urinating should be noted and monitored. If your pet begins sleeping more than usual or becomes generally listless, you should also contact your veterinarian. Other signs of trouble include:

  • open sores for more than one week
  • foul mouth odors for more than two days
  • drooling for more than two days
  • hair loss
  • increased abdominal size
  • excessive panting
  • inability to chew
  • blood in the urine or stool
  • heavy breathing
  • seizures
  • sudden weakness
  • persistent coughing

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