Elderly Dog Problems: 8 Tips to Slow the Clock

Elderly dog problems are similar to the health declines that people experience. Common problems include:

Dip in Energy
Heart Disease
Joint Pain
Shaky, Unsure Gait
Failing Hearing
Diminished Appetite
Failing Eyesight
Skin Problems
Tumors and Cysts
Changes in Behavior
Foul Breath, Plaque/Tartar Buildup, Gingivitis

Although you can't change the hands of time, there is a lot you can do to keep an old friend comfortable and live his life to the fullest.

  1. Get regular checkups. A thorough annual physical and routine blood tests will give your vet a chance to identify diseases before your dog is even showing any symptoms. Early detection can be vital to managing or even curing your elderly dog problems.
  2. Brush his teeth. If an older dog's teeth haven't been well cared for his entire life, he may be facing tooth loss. The bacteria that passes into his body through tooth and gum decay can lead to heart, liver, and kidney problems. Decay can make it painful for him to eat. Ask your vet for a thorough teeth scrubbing. After that, keep his teeth clean by giving him a gentle scrub everyday with a dog toothbrush and paste.
  3. Keep your dog close. Aging dogs may begin to lose their hearing and sight, which makes them more vulnerable to accidents. Keep him on a leash or in a confined area for his own protection.
  4. Help stop itching. Older dogs, particularly ones who had skin problems when they were younger, tend to have dry, flaky skin. Give him a nutritional supplement containing skin-healthy oils like Derm Caps. To encourage your dog to swallow the pill, disguise it in peanut butter and he will gobble it down.
  5. Watch his weight. Obesity is a major contributor to age related problems like arthritis and heart disease. To check your dog's weight, run your hands over his ribcage. If you can count each rib, he's at a good weight. If all you feel if padding, start him on a weight loss plan.
  6. Daily exercise is the fountain of youth.. It will help your dog stay slim and agile, help ward off age related disorders like arthritis or digestive problems. Not to mention, regular exercise is a natural cure for constipation.
  7. Give him supplements. A blend of antioxidants (containing Vitamin A, C, and E, as well as beta carotene and selenium) coupled with fish oil supplements can make your dog feel years younger. You may want to get a liquid or powered form of the supplements and mix them in your dog's food.
  8. Help the kids understand. Elderly dogs can get as cranky. Warn children to be considerate of an elderly dog.

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Drs. Foster and Smith Inc.