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Keep an Old Dog Young

By Janie Knetzer of Your Old Dog, Guest Blogger

It’s easy to take your older dog’s health for granted when he appears to be happy and healthy. But, dogs are masters at hiding pain and discomfort and it is critical to take notice of any slight change in behavior or routine. Following are a few tips for keeping your older dog young as long as possible:

Preventative Maintenance
Dogs nine and over require routine visits to the vet every six months for a simple check up. Semi-annual visits versus annual veterinary visits are critical for senior dogs. Have the vet do routine blood work to check for any changes in liver and kidney function.

Janice with one of her older dogs.

Although many traditional vets recommend routine vaccinations, dog owners must be very careful. There was a time when I would recommend routine shots for dogs of all ages including older dogs. However, after interviewing a holistic veterinarian and learning the harm these vaccinations can cause, I no longer do. Our dogs only receive the three year rabies vaccination required by law.

On the other hand, heartworm prevention is a must. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes and it looks like spaghetti. These worms live in the heart and connecting blood vessels. Annually, heartworm kills many dogs. If heartworm doesn’t take the dog’s life, it makes him severely sick, often requiring surgery to remove the worms.

No matter what your dog’s age, don’t cut corners with your dog’s preventative heartworm medicine. Ivermectin is the main ingredient in most heartworm medicines; caution should be used with collies, collie mixes and other herding breeds who are sensitive to this ingredient.

If you live in an area with colder months, you can talk to your vet about the seasonal transmission period since heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes. However, for warmer areas, monthly prevention is definitely necessary.

Symptoms of Aging
One of the first signs of aging is typically a decrease in a dog’s activity level. Dog owners notice their pet sleeping longer and showing little interest in play. It’s important that your older dog be protected from the elements such as sun and cold.

With age, sight and hearing may become impaired and skin growths develop. Incontinence is also common in older dogs. As your dog ages, his liver and kidneys will most likely lose their ability to function at 100 percent.

Nutrition
Your dog’s diet should be your first concern no matter what his age. Dogs thrive both physically and mentally when their nutritional needs are met. Your older dog’s food should be all natural and preservative free. Again, the protein source in his food should be of high quality. A high quality meat source is a must for your older dog.

Take notice of the height of your old dog’s food dish. Raised dishes cause less strain on the neck and back of your older dog.

Exercise
Exercise and regular movement are critical for older dogs. Even if your dog has arthritis or hip dysplasia, exercise is still necessary. Several small walks daily are recommended for either of these conditions. The important thing is to KEEP YOUR OLD DOG MOVING with daily exercise. Swimming is another excellent form of exercise for any dog and especially older arthritic dogs.

Tender Loving Care
Dogs want nothing more than to please us. It’s important to let our old friends know how much we care and love them by showing them daily affection. Take time to talk to your old furry guy or gal.

Provide a comfy orthopedic bed for your old friend away from any drafty areas. There are many different all natural supplements and treatments that can help your older dog with aging issues such as his immune system, arthritis or hip dysplasia, etc.

Monthly Dog Photo Contest for Dogs Ages 9 and Up
We felt it was time that older dogs had their own contest with no competition from the young ones. Each month we choose two lucky senior dogs for our monthly contest winners. One lucky winner receives a $20 gift certificate from Senior Pet Products and another winner receives a pair of Power Paws by Woodrow Wear.

Contest Rules
1. Share a story about your old timer along with a picture.

2. The story should be at least 1 paragraph and 4 sentences. Anything less than this will be ineligible for the pet contest. Tell me why you think your old dog should win our contest.

3. *All dogs must be the age of 9 or over in order to enter this contest. Dogs younger than this can enroll in our cutest dog contest on our main website. This contest is based on the TRUST factor; dogs must be nine or over. Enter the cutest dog contest on our main website.

4. All pictures and photographs become the property of Your Old Dog.

5. Contest runs from the 1st day of the month and ends on the last day of that month. All submissions must be in by mid-night on the last day of the month to be considered for that month. Submissions beyond that will be carried over to the next month.

6. A panel of 5 judges will decide the winners based upon content including photos and stories.
Enter the contest by clicking here.

With over thirty years experience in dog care, Janie Knetzer has saved the lives of many dogs while teaching responsible care to dog owners everywhere. Although Janie holds no degrees, through her websites and coaching, she has successfully made an impact on the way people view, care for and value their pets.

Editor’s Note: Tomorrow is the last day to enter the contest to win a free CD of country music songs for dog lovers. Click here for details.

4 comments to Keep an Old Dog Young

  • Great advice! Though Buster and Ty are only 4 and 6, respectively, it’s never too early to start thinking about some of these issues. Also, it’s important to remember that depending on what breed of dog you have “old age” arrives at a different time. Great Danes, for example, have a shorter life expectancy and will be “old” a lot sooner than a Yorkie, whose life expectancy is longer.

  • Walter Allen

    Great tips. Thank you. Old dogs are loyal and sweet. And our next dog will be a senior, since we are seniors too.

  • Terri Bensinger

    Thank you for all your efforts that you have put in this blog. I have a 13 year old dog, and I want to keep him young.

  • Donald Gray

    Thanks for addressing the needs of older dogs. They don’t have as much umph as the pups do, but they are loyal true friends.