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How Can I Help My Dog Age Gracefully?

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How Can I Help My Dog Age Gracefully?

By Morieka Johnson, MNN

Q: It’s getting harder for my 9-year-old dog to do the things she used to enjoy. How can I help her age gracefully?

A: While every dog is different, most canines enter their geriatric phase at 7 to 8 years of age. As with humans, advanced age can lead to arthritis, decreased mobility and decreased organ functions. An expert from my pooch’s veterinary clinic offers the following tips to help embrace your dog’s inner puppy as the years go by:

Keep up the exercise: Don’t discount those daily walks. Even if the pace is a little slower these days, it’s a way to bond with your dog and burn calories together. Just be sure to monitor your pet during and after the walk. Dogs don’t sweat, so be mindful of excessive panting or signs of exhaustion. If your dog is like my sister’s dog, Daisy, it will simply stop when enough is enough. If you have a couch potato, introduce exercise on a gradual basis. A few minutes of fetch each day can keep dogs active.

Watch the weight: On a small frame, an extra three to five pounds can strain hips and joints. Since older animals are less active, they require fewer calories. Talk to your veterinarian about reducing portions or switching to a senior formula, which has fewer calories and often includes joint-friendly supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin. A smaller-size kibble or softer food also may be necessary to aid in digestion. I’ve added a bit of warm water or veggie broth to help soften Daisy’s food during her visits.

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124 comments

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8:47AM PDT on Mar 22, 2012

My 12 yr old pom has Cosequin DS every day for her trick knees, soloxine for hypothyroid, and enalapril to help her heart. She still enjoys a good run around the backyard every good weather day and two or three walks in the morning and afternoon. It's sad to recognize that she is aging, but then, so am I....

3:04AM PDT on Mar 22, 2012

My dog is 17 and she has severe arthritis now but is still managing to get about not too badly due to modern medication although that wares off too in time. I also bought her a memory foam bed recently specially made for arthritic dogs which she seems to like but time will tell!

1:14PM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

My 14 year old Jack Russel Terrier has been getting frozen meat (not the really smelly stuff, but the healthy kind :D) and it's really helped him. His coat is still in really great shape, you can barely detect any grey except for the ears. I would really recommend it, it may be a bit pricey but it's worth every penny, in my opinion.
About the getting a younger dog to interact with him, that won't work! We have recently adopted two dogs, one is about two years old and the other was about a year old. The youngest constantly tries to play with him, but our Jack just keeps on getting grouchier, LOL.

5:01AM PST on Mar 11, 2011

Thanks

4:19PM PST on Feb 12, 2011

Jessie, you might think about putting your mattress on the floor. That's what I did, and my girl has no trouble joining me for a god nights sleep. I don't have to worry about her falling off, either. It's great.
Our vet has her on Previcox and Arthrisoothe. They really make a difference.

5:37PM PDT on Oct 29, 2010

Good lean meat based food, regular exercise, fish oil, and a soft bed to sleep in!

12:42PM PDT on Aug 25, 2010

I work at a specialty veterinary hospital, which offers holistic care, and I must say acupuncture and herbs can do wonders for elderly animals. We've seen great results for dogs who are suffering from arthritis, or are becoming weak in their back end. My dog has been having acupuncture treatments for 2 years to help his body fight off his cancer. Glucosamine/Chrondroitin supplements are also great for aging joints, if that doesn't work ask your vet about Rimadyl or Metacam, Rimadyl gave my parents 15+ lab mix another year of running around the yard with his best friend.

3:28PM PDT on Jul 1, 2010

thanks :)) i'll try to make my dogs senior years the best :)

6:35AM PDT on Jun 30, 2010

Thank you for these tips. My dog is over 10 and though, like me, he thinks he's still a puppy, it's obvious that he's changing. Also like me! Hope we can continue to grow older together with a little grace.

8:01AM PDT on Jun 28, 2010

Bitter sweet article. Brought tears to my eyes.

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