Your treasured pet will give you a lifetime of companionship, love and enjoyment. But just like humans, your dog’s health will inevitably be impacted by aging, and in dogs, this can happen as early as their sixth or seventh year. Illnesses and conditions like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and diseases associated with kidneys and the liver occur more frequently as your pet—and his or her immune system–ages. But with some changes in care, diet and screening, you can help assure that your pet ages as happy, comfortably and healthy as possible.
As your dog ages, it is wise to schedule a twice yearly exam versus a yearly exam. Your veterinarian can check more often for signs and symptoms of problems, such as stiffness and pain due to arthritis, dental problems and bloodwork to screen for conditions like diabetes and parasites. Dogs who have not been spayed or neutered are also more prone to reproductive cancers and should be screened accordingly.
Your dog should also be monitored more frequently for weight and nutritional problems as well. Your dog’s diet may have to be adjusted as his or her nutritional needs will change with aging, as well as his or her digestive abilities. And unfortunately, just like their human companions, weight gain increases with age, as well as health problems associated with weight. Mobility may decrease, contributing to this problem. You should talk with your vet regarding age-appropriate exercises for your pet.
Obviously, your dog’s vaccinations should be kept up to date, but talk to your veterinarian regarding any necessary changes associated with an older dog. You may also have to change your pet’s sleeping arrangements in an effort to avoid stairs and obstacles.
It doesn’t take a lot of adjusting to help make sure your pet ages as well as possible. It is a small price to pay for all the years of happiness your dog has provided you.