Most dogs, when given the correct care and TLC can live complete and happy lives with their owners. However, given the level of impact our pets have on our lives, a beloved pet can never live long enough.  Every dog breed will have a different life span, and while taking care of your aging dog you need to adapt the environment to the dog for their comfort. As your dog gets older, just as humans, they will develop aches and pains along with generalized weakening of the muscles and a guaranteed increase in medical problems.

To keep your dog comfortable and happy in their golden years, you should protect them from excessive heat and cold because they will have lost the ability to regulate their body temperature like a younger dog.  Regular exercise is paramount, so long as their health matches the exercise routine.  If your dog is exhibiting signs of heavy panting or is resisting exercise at all, a change of routine is necessary.

Adapting the diet and feeding schedule is also important. As dogs get older they will become less active and therefore need fewer calories in their daily diet. If necessary, prescription foods are available through your veterinarian.  If you think your dog may require a specialized diet for any reason, make sure to discuss your concerns with a veterinary professional.

Aging dogs can also experience hearing loss and diminished eyesight.  Accommodations to these ailments are necessary for safety and should be adjusted as soon as they are needed.

Specialized dental care is also a consideration that needs to be addressed in aging dogs.  Due to their heightened risk of gum disease and general dental problems complete dental cleanings should be performed by your vet every six months.  Make sure that a complete blood panel is drawn at the time of the cleaning to check for any other issues that may arise.

The most important aspect of comforting your aging dog is to consider their age in human years.  If your dog is 13 years old, he may suffer the same aging milestones of a 75 year old human.  Make sure to continue with regular bi-annual vet exams.

Giving quality of life is the most important when it comes to growing older with your dog.  Keep the memories alive and stay on top of your dog’s more frequent health concerns!

Dr. Marika Zoll

Dr. Marika Zoll