Old dogs have a capacity for deep and prolonged sleep, take care not to startle an elderly pet. Their years should be respected and they should not be teased by puppies, cats or children.
- Avoid turning an old dog out on winter mornings and evenings. The shock of very cold air can cause drop attacks and strokes.
- Avoid boarding an elderly dog in kennels. Stress can trigger illness.
- Keep Vaccinations and Boosters up to date. An elderly dog can lack immunity to diseases.
- Have teeth attended to regularly to make eating easier and to prevent halitosis.
- Haval anal sacs checked regularly. Blocked sacs are uncomfortable for the dog as well as unpleasant for the owner.
- If the dog is unable to take much exercise, keep the food intake down, but offer small amounts more often, so that the dog does not feel its pleasures are taken away. An overweight dog is more prone to heart disease. Your vet may advise you to feed one of the special diets that are available for old or obese dogs. the use of such foods can help prevent some of the problems that beset older dogs.
- Bearing in mind that old dogs are not as mobile as before, take care that they do not sit on cold damp concrete, or in full sun, for too long. Put rugs and beds in favourite sitting places, so that they are convenient to go to.
- Take care that an old dog does not sit or lie on rough surfaces, as elbow and hock callouses can become painful and even chronically ulcerated.
- Do not allow an old dog to get too far away on walks. They can easily become lost through being disoriented when sense of smell, sight and hearing is deteriorating.
Special Care for the older dog
- Water – Monitor the amount of water being drunk daily. Consult your Vet if there is an increase without apparent cause. If necessary, offer the dog water, as it might be too lethargic to help itself.
- Food – Provide food of consistency. Slightly warmed food can be more appetising. Trial and error will show which type of bowl is most convenient for your dog to eat from – mouth dexterity is not as good as in the young. Raising the bowl on a step or platform can help as bending the neck may be painful.
- In some situations it may be advisable to change your dog’s diet. For example a reduction in the protein and salt content may be beneficial. Your Vet will advise and may prescribe a specially prepared commercial diet.
- Observing and caring for your elderly dog can be interesting and rewarding in terms of the dog’s visible gratitude for the arrangements you make for its comfort.
- Remember dogs live for now rather than for yesterday or tomorrow. This makes being old and caring for the old dog so much easier than it is for a human.
Recommended Reading: Extract from Doglopaedia ( A complete Guide to Dog Care) J.M Evans & Kay White