We all get older, and aging can make life difficult, even for our beloved pets. Where would we be without our pets? They make us happy. They shower us with unbridled affection. They ease our stress. So what can we do for them? What should we do for our pets as they age? How can we best take care of our pets so they have a long, fulfilled, meaningful life, in as much comfort as we can provide them?
Take my dog Buddy for example; he’s getting on in age. It’s easy to care for them when they’re young. With a puppy, you feed the dog, paper train it, take it to the vet on occasion and spend some time with it and you’re set. As your dog, or any pet ages though, you have to take special care of them. Your dog goes from being your steadfast companion to a loving family member that you have to take special care of. You have to start choosing food for them that’s easy to chew as their teeth rot with age due to gum disease. You have to watch their diet to ensure that they get the nutrition they need. You have to be careful of over feeding, as excess weight affects their joints. Massaging your dog will help with joint stiffness and will improve blood circulation as well. In short, you have to be an informed caregiver if you want your aging dog to enjoy his or her golden years.
Here are a few tips that will help you prolong the life of your trusty dog as he ages:
1. Weight Control: Watch your dog’s weight. Everyone loves to give their pet treats and table scraps, but as they advance in age, their metabolism slows down. You have to be careful about what you feed them. An overweight dog is a doomed dog, no matter how happy table scraps momentarily appease your pooch. The weight causes joint pain and stress on the heart, so devise and maintain a healthy diet for your pet.
2. Exercise: Exercise is beneficial for your dog and you, but don’t overdo it. Too much exercise can tax your dog, making him listless for days. Think of it this way, you might spend time with your grandmother, taking walks, maybe even swimming in the pool with her, but would you expect her to chase a Frisbee for an hour? No, her body couldn’t take it. An aging dog is the same as an aging person, they might have the desire to run and play, and to make you happy, and they might do it longer than they should if you let them. Monitor the exercise you give your dog, too much of it or too little of it can be a bad thing!
3. Vitamins and Minerals: That’s right, just as a human needs supplemental vitamins and minerals as they age, so does your dog. Fish oil, for example, is great for the coat and skin, which dulls and dries as your dog ages. Glucosamine and Chondroitin can help your dog to fight the effects of arthritis. Do some research and find what minerals and vitamins your dog needs to live a long and healthy life.
We all love our pets; it’s up to us to take care of them. I don’t know what I’d do without my aging dog myself. Buddy, is fourteen years old and loves slobbering all over my face. It’s his way of saying hello but yuck! The problem is that he has foul breath. It could turn fresh milk into cottage cheese in a second. I’ve seen him wilt flowers with one blast. Sometimes I wonder if he eats his own poop as a breath mint. I guess one could say that Buddy has a high IQ, since he understands the difference between handing you his right paw and his left paw, but I’d take a few IQ points away if for poop eating. That’s not really a wise diet choice.
Sometimes he’ll knock you over with both paws too, especially when he wants something to eat. He is deaf, which makes me immensely sad, yet he is such an extraordinarily sweet and gentle dog, which makes me happy. He is the only dog that I know with sleep apnea. He always gives me that sad sack look when I eat something, so I end up sharing it with him sometimes, but I monitor his weight and diet. If he doesn’t snore, I get nervous because he lies so still. I have to go over and shake him. Sad to say, arthritis is already starting to affect his hips. He wobbles when he walks. There are times when I feel terrible watching him move, he’s so slowed by arthritic pain. My chair is his favorite spot, and each day he appears to have greater difficulty jumping up on it. For whatever little time that I may have left with the old fella’, I want to make him as comfortable as I can. Here is his poem, and a poem for all the wonderful aging canines out there!
Woof, mommy and daddy dearest
I wuv’ you so much…
When my hips become painful,
They’re soothed by your loving touch…
Whenever I’m hungry
You make sure I’m well fed
When I spend the day sleeping, there’s always
A toy and blankets on my bed.
So soft and warm and cuddly too
It’s like I’m in heaven, believe me it’s true!
You know how much I like sleeping on your chair
But it’s so hard to jump, there’s too much pain to bear.
I walk with a wobble, like I’m wearing high heels,
My breath stinks so bad, it makes milk congeal.
Sometimes you let me lick your hands and others your face,
Even after I lick myself in every private place.
It’s tough getting old, can’t even hold my own mess
So I wear that stupid diaper all the time, but it’s better than a dress!
So here we are, two best friends, the best that will ever be,
One thing’s for sure, we’ll forever have each other’s loyalty.