Millennium Post

The golden years

No one wants to think about their dog passing, but those caring for an older dog know that days are numbered to enjoy their companionship

How should I take care of senior dogs?

As age creeps up on your pet, you will notice a few changes in their demeanour. Their boisterous energy tones down, they tend to sleep more and hunt the house for warm spots to curl up in. They could have a decreased appetite and may gain or lose weight. They may even develop white hair on their snout, chin and face. Different breeds age at different times. Bigger dogs tend to age sooner than smaller breeds.

Besides the change that occurs in your pet's physical characteristics, internal changes also occur and, as pet parents, we need to alter the manner in which we care for them. Keeping them comfortable and healthy make be a little more difficult now. We discuss how you can adequately meet these changes.

Diet: Older pets will require food that is more easily digestible. Food should contain plenty of antioxidants to help the immune system and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Speak to your vet on how to retain those that are important. Their metabolism becomes slower and they may put on weight or reduce drastically.

Movement: As they age, a pet's joints and bones become weaker. Climbing up and down will become much more difficult and therefore you should alter your pet's space so that he can avoid this.

To ease the pain of aching bones, a bed with ample support is required, thus it is a good idea to invest in a good orthopaedic mattress. The bed should be placed somewhere that is easily accessible. Try to avoid climbing stairs.

Grooming: They become quite sensitive to the cold, so ensure that you bathe them with only warm water and in a warm room. Dry them immediately after and thoroughly. Their coat could become bad as they grow older and you should keep up with regular, gentle brushing to encourage the release of natural oils. This makes the skin much better. Oral care is also required. Remember to brush their teeth on a regular basis, not only does this prevent gum disease but also encourages better breath.

To ensure that your pet is comfortable and healthy, remember to schedule health check-ups as often as every six months. This will ensure that you are up to date on any problems that your pet might have and catching them early makes a world of difference.

(Views expressed and information provided are personal. Send your questions to manekaanimallove@gmail.com)

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