You’ve heard it before, getting older can be tough. As we age everyday tasks are just a little harder to do. Getting out of bed in the morning takes longer. I immediately grab for my reading glasses to see the small print on my phone. I have a standing appointment with my hairdresser to keep the gray at bay. As I deal with these normal consequences of an aging body, it made me realize that I am not the only one getting older in our house; my dog is getting older too. Some of the same ailments and conditions related to aging also affect our pets, and we need to be aware of these issues to understand how to best care for our furry family members.
My beautiful Shepherd mix, Mickey is now over 12 years old, so he is considered ‘elderly’. He has gray hair on his chin and now it’s even above his eyes, two little bushy gray eyebrows. He has limited vision due to cataracts. He takes longer to get up and get moving, he naps more than he used to. I decided to do a little research on how to care for aging pets and I want to share what I learned so you can take care of your aging pets too.
As dogs age, taking care of them becomes more difficult. Older dogs are typically more sensitive to extreme temperature changes because of changes in their metabolism. These changes in metabolism may also require changes in their diet to softer, more senior friendly food.
According to several ‘experts’ I found through Google searches,
The common signs of aging you might notice in your dog include:
• Tiring more quickly
• Development of vision or hearing problems
• Graying hair
Behavioral changes like mental confusion, separation anxiety, excessive vocalization, or elimination accidents in the house
Thank goodness for me, Mickey is handling his aging well so far, but elderly pets do sometimes struggle with dementia and incontinence. I know that I will eventually have to deal with making some end-of-life decisions for Mickey. He is still relatively healthy, but when he begins to struggle I will have to make the impossible choice of if/when to put him down. It is especially hard because I love him very much; he has been there for me through so much in my life. Even though my husband says I can actually talk to my dog – the fact is, he is a dog and I can only guess what he is thinking or feeling. It is important to recognize the needs of aging pets. They add so much to our lives and we need to make sure we are doing our best to care for them through all the stages of their life.