Your best friend may not be switching to white shoes and moving to Florida any time soon but as he approaches retirement age there are a few things you should consider. Not only are we living longer but are pets are too. Approximately 40% of the nations dogs are seniors; 18 million dogs over the age of 7.
The 18- to 20-year-old dog or cat will be a relatively common occurrence in the next 10 years," says Greg Troy, an internist at Virginia Tech’s College of veterinary medicine.
And whether it is human or canine, an aging population has special needs.
You are what you eat
The first thing to consider is diet, as dogs age, their nutritional needs change. As their energy level subsides so should their caloric intake. We all know what happens if it doesn’t. Obesity is a common health problem in older dogs. It can lead to joint problems, which decreases activity, which only exacerbates the problem. There are many really healthy foods out there one of our favorites is Verve from Honest Kitchen it’s a great all natural food specifically designed for older and less active dogs.
As your dog ages it’s important to exercise him regularly, any muscle, whether human or animal will atrophy if not used so it’s essential for your dog’s continued health to get off the couch and move.
You look marvelous
Another common development in older dogs is the graying and thinning of the hair. This is often accompanied by a dry coat and itchy skin. One way to mitigate these effects is to give your dog fatty acid supplements like Omega 3 and 6 ; they help provide essential nutrients that may otherwise be missing from his diet. Another great way to help is regular treatment with a high quality deep conditioner like Fur Butter or fur worse . The all-natural colloidal oatmeal will help relieve the dryness while shea butter and calendula improves the texture and softness of the coat.
It’s also very common for older dogs to develop calluses; they’re less active, spend more time laying down and therefore place a greater stress on the skin of the elbows and legs. If you don’t already have one, this is the perfect time to buy your little guy a bed, it will not only make him more comfortable bit will help prevent this problem. We suggest Jax and Bones or Eloise and of course it’s always smart to have a container of Bow wow butter Balm handy to help heal dry cracked paws, calluses and rough skin.
A little hope for arthritis
And no discussion of aging would be complete without a few words about arthritis and hip dysplasia. Both conditions are common in older dogs, especially the larger breeds that carry weight on their joints and breeds like Dachshunds and Bassets who are particularly prone to intervertebral (IV) disc disease. Of course Glucosamine is an excellent supplement for this problem but new research is pointing to collagen as a great way to help rejuvenate joints. A new product Joint Resolution has a particularly effective blend of BioCell Collagen II, chondroitin and organic herbs. It’s specially formulated for dogs.
And finally, there has been much discussion about the pro’s and cons of pet insurance. Obviously as your dog ages he will probably need to see the vet more often, need to take more medication and may even require expensive surgery. We have health insurance for the dogs at happytails and have found it a cost effective way to keep them healthy. I spoke to Lorna Paxton about the topic and she had this insight: "I was inspired to check out insurance after one $600 trip to the vet."
I found these two sites that really helped me pick the right plan"
Live long and prosper
The oldest dog on record lived to be 29, but with advances in veterinary science the era of 30, 40 and 50 year old dogs may not be far away. But as the saying goes "it’s not the years in your life that count it’s the life in your years ". With care and understanding your best friend can live not only a long life but also a healthy and enjoyable one.