PRWeb - Often the aging of pets sneaks up on pet owners. While the adage of one year equals seven dog years isn’t exactly right, the truth is, dogs age much faster than humans.
Here are ten things you can do to make your older pet more comfortable:
1. Pay attention to oral health. Keeping on top of dental care, even in older pets, will lessen the chance of mouth pain later when other health problems might complicate a dental cleaning.
2. Keep a close eye on lumps and bumps. As a dog ages, the incidence of cancer increases. Point out any lumps or bumps that are new or changing in size or firmness to your veterinarian so they can test to see if it’s cancer.
3. When in doubt, try pain relief. Sometimes the only way to see if your dog is achy and uncomfortable is to try a dog-safe pain reliever and see if his/her activity level changes. Human pain relievers can cause stomach ulcers and other problems, so ask your vet for a dog-safe one to try.
4. Weight control reduces the stress on the body. An extra 5 lbs translates into an extra 10% of weight on a medium dog’s heart, lungs and joints.
5. Go for a walk. Just like in people, activity and exercise reduces the pain of arthritis. As pets age, they can sometimes end up with less mental stimulation. Exploring the sights, sounds and smells of the neighborhood can be the highpoint of the day.
6. Maintain digestive regularity. Arthritis of the spine and hips can make defecation more difficult, which can lead to straining and constipation. Adding extra fiber in the form of canned pumpkin or other high fiber, low sugar source helps keep things moving easily. Plenty of fresh water is also important.
7. Create runways. Hardwood floors are beautiful to look at and easy to clean, but for older dogs – often with longer nails, stiffer joints and less muscle mass – they are a definite problem. Lay carpet runners or yoga mats to create paths for an older dog to get around. Adding steps or ramps can also help them get around better.
8. Change can be hard for older dogs. The more you can keep the routine the same the better. Consider a dog sitter rather than kenneling to minimize the stress and anxiety. Think twice before introducing a new pet to the household. If you are seeing signs of anxiety or dementia, ask your vet about medications that can help.
9. Help children understand the age-related changes to stay safe. Diminished hearing and sight, as well as the aches and pains an older dog may feel can increase their irritability. Older dogs may be more likely to growl or snap, especially if startled, because they feel more vulnerable.
10. See the vet more often, not less. Partner with your vet to ensure that your dog’s final years are comfortable with the highest quality of life possible. Ask your vet about hospice care when you that point, and if your vet doesn't offer it, find one that does. Look into a house call service if getting to the clinic is too stressful.
According to Dr. Mary Craig, too many people stop seeing the vet when their dog gets older. “They tell me they get to a point where they don’t want to do a lot of tests and aggressive treatment because it won’t change what they do.”
Gentle Goodbye Veterinary Hospice & At-home Euthanasia is a mobile veterinary service owned and operated by Dr. Craig in Westchester County, N.Y. and Fairfield County, Conn. that offers in-home hospice and end of life care for pets.