By: Rachel Arora
Few pet parents want to acknowledge that their beloved puppy has entered his golden years. Although there are rare examples of dogs like Chilla, the Australian cattle dog who went on to live for 32 years, the average lifespan of a canine is 7 to 13 ½ years. If you have a senior pet at home, you need to come to terms with the fact that your pet is entering the twilight phase of his life and that ageing is not a disease, its normal. Healthy ageing can be a smooth and pleasurable experience for your pet. As a pet parent, it is your duty to help your pets enjoy every moment of their life by taking good care of them, feeding them well, giving them ample exercise and making a note of the slightest of health issues before they become significant.
Old is Gold
Watching your pet age is a soothing and rewarding experience for every pet parent. The same puppy who entered your household as an energetic little being, that furball of tireless energy who’d rush around the yard or jump all over your furniture has now matured into a docile old buddy who loves to curl at your feet and gazes at you with gray eyes and a faraway look. He’s been with you all these years, he knows you better than you know yourself, he’s seen all the highs and lows of your life, yet stood by your side like a sturdy rock, a comforting presence and a loyal friend. Now it’s your time to look after the physical and emotional needs of your golden oldie and help him enjoy his senior years.
Symptoms of ageing:
Dogs age approximately seven years to one human year and are considered to be senior from the age of seven. Since dogs age so rapidly, their risk of developing an ailment progresses quickly. Symptoms of aging in dogs include graying of hair around the face, reduced level of energy, difficulty in getting up or walking, reduced appetite, sleeping for longer hours, trouble in passing toilet, etc.
In addition to this, your vet might order specific diagnostic tests and conduct various examinations to determine your furry friend’s overall health condition. You must take your pet at least twice a year to the veterinarian. This helps monitor his health and rule out the risk or progression of various diseases such as diabetes, dental disease, arthritis, cancer and kidney and liver disease. The vet will carefully examine your pet’s joints, teeth, eyes and coat. Depending on his health condition, the vet might design a diet plan for your dog.
You might be required to make certain adjustments in your pet’s environment to keep him cool during summers and warm in winters, provide easy access to food and water, let the pet decide the pace of his walks and set up a comfortable bed for him.
Tips to make your golden oldie more comfortable:
As dogs get older, many tasks get harder for them to handle. They might begin to experience mobility issues and physical activity might drain them out, or they might feel annoyed when something bothers them and act aggressively, not because of any behavior issues but because they cannot get it out of their way!
The following tips will help make your golden buddy more comfortable:
Get your pet moving:
For certain dogs, particularly those living in extreme climates and harsher terrains ageing can be a painful experience. This is because they tend to get more lethargic in such regions and resort to immobility. Whether it is too hot or too cold, the physical activity of dogs tends to decline. They are likely to feel the effects of arthritis and their joints and muscles get stiff and sore when not used adequately. Thus, it is essential to keep your senior companion active to help alleviate any symptoms.
Visit your vet: You need to keep a close eye on your senior pet at all times and not overlook any changes or signs of distress. Inform your vet at the earliest to rule out any issues and conduct regular check-ups. For instance, if your pet is struggling to get up, it can indicate arthritis or another age-related problem. Your vet may order some tests and recommend medication and ways to keep your pet healthy and pain- free.
Take your pet for a swim: Nowadays, there are lots of pet boardings and resorts equipped with swimming pools for dogs. Swimming is a great way to exercise your dog and an excellent alternative to walking or running your pet as it exerts less pressure on the joints.
Change your pet’s diet and supplements: Thanks to advancements in pet healthcare and nutrition, more dogs are likely to live longer and spend quality time with their pet parents in their golden years. Pet parents can see visible changes in their furbuddy such as graying of hair around the face and slowing down due to wear and tear of the joints. Apart from this, ageing can also result in lowered immunity and a rise in free radicals. To maintain good health and boost your pet’s immunity, he might need a tailor-made diet. This should comprise of increased levels of antioxidants to combat free radicals which accelerate the ageing process and aggravate symptoms of changes in the brain and eyes. In addition to this, your senior pet may also require various medications and supplements to boost the health of joints and wellbeing depending on his overall condition.
Groom your pet regularly: Regular grooming not only keeps your pet looking and smelling great but also helps check for any bumps or lumps that might signal a health issue. Clean your pet’s ears and clip his nails and give him a relaxing massage.
Keep the brain active: It is essential to invest in proper playtime and training activities for your pet. Get your canine friend to learn new tricks to keep his brain active. You can look up various methods on the internet or read books that impart knowledge about activities for senior dogs. This will also strengthen your bond with your pet.
The joy and friendship brought to you by your golden pets is one of the most pleasurable experiences of life. Thus, you must focus on making the senior years of your beloved furbuddy’s life happy and relaxed. You must ensure that nothing causes undue stress to your pet and he stays calm and placid.