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Aging Gracefully: It’s A Senior Dog Life
We all age, and aging can make life difficult, even for our beloved pets. Where would we be without our pets? They make us happy. They fill us with unbridled affection. They reduce our stress. So what can we do for them? What should we do for our pets as they age? How can we better care for our pets so that they can live long, fulfilling and meaningful lives in all the comforts we can provide?
Take my dog Buddy for example; he is getting older. It’s easy to take care of them when they’re young. With a puppy, you feed the dog, train him on paper, take him to the vet occasionally and spend time with him and you’re set. As your dog, or any other pet, ages, you need to take special care of it. Your dog goes from the status of an unwavering companion to that of a loving member of the family of whom you must take special care. You need to start choosing foods for them that are easy to chew, because their teeth rot with age due to gum disease. You need to watch their diet to make sure they are getting the nutrition they need. You need to be careful about overeating, because excess weight affects their joints. Massaging your dog will help relieve joint stiffness and will also improve blood circulation. In short, you need to be a savvy caregiver if you want your aging dog to enjoy his golden years.
Here are some tips that will help prolong the life of your loyal dog as he ages:
1. Weight control: Monitor your dog’s weight. Everyone likes to give their pet treats and table scraps, but as they get older, their metabolism slows down. You have to be careful what you feed them. An overweight dog is a doomed dog, no matter how happy table scraps momentarily soothe your pooch. Weight causes joint pain and stress on the heart, so design and maintain a healthy diet for your pet.
2. Exercise: Exercise is good for your dog and good for you, but don’t overdo it. Too much exercise can tax your dog, making him listless for days. Think of it this way, you could hang out with your grandma, go for walks, maybe even swim in the pool with her, but would you expect her to chase a Frisbee for an hour? No, his body couldn’t handle it. An aging dog is the same as an aging person, he may want to run and play, and make you happy, and he may do it longer than he should if you let him. Watch the exercise you give your dog, too much or too little can be a bad thing!
3. Vitamins and Minerals: It’s true, just as a human being needs vitamin and mineral supplements as they age, so does your dog. Fish oil, for example, is great for the coat and skin, which dull and dry out as your dog ages. Glucosamine and chondroitin can help your dog fight the effects of arthritis. Do some research and find the minerals and vitamins your dog needs to live a long, healthy life.
We all love our pets; it is up to us to take care of them. I don’t know what I would do myself without my aging dog. Buddy, is fourteen and loves to drool all over my face. It’s his way of saying hello but yuck! The problem is that he has bad breath. It could turn fresh milk into cottage cheese in a second. I’ve seen it wither flowers all at once. Sometimes I wonder if he eats his own poop like a peppermint. I guess you could say Buddy has a high IQ because he understands the difference between giving you his right paw and his left paw, but I’d take a few IQ points off if I ate poop. It’s not really a wise dietary choice.
Sometimes he will also knock you over with both paws, especially when he wants something to eat. He is deaf, which makes me immensely sad, yet he is an extraordinarily sweet and gentle dog, which makes me happy. He’s the only dog I know that suffers from sleep apnea. He always gives me this sad look when I eat something, so I end up sharing it with him sometimes, but I watch his weight and his diet. If he’s not snoring, I get nervous because he stays still. I have to go shake it. Sad to say, the arthritis is already starting to affect her hips. He wobbles when he walks. There are times when I feel terrible watching him move, he’s so slowed down by arthritis pain. My chair is his favorite place, and every day he seems to have more difficulty jumping on it. For the little time I have left with the old man, I want to make him as comfortable as possible. Here is his poem, and a poem for all the wonderful aging dogs!
Woof, dear mom and dad
I love you so…
When my hips get sore,
They are soothed by your loving touch…
Every time I’m hungry
You make sure I’m well fed
When I spend the day sleeping, there’s always
A toy and blankets on my bed.
So soft and warm and cuddly too
It’s as if I was in paradise, believe me it’s true!
You know how much I love sleeping in your chair
But it’s so hard to jump, there’s too much pain to bear.
I walk with a wobble, as if wearing high heels,
My breath stinks so much that it congeals the milk.
Sometimes you let me lick your hands and others your face,
Even after I lick myself in all private places.
It’s hard getting old, I can’t even hold my own mess
So I wear this stupid diaper all the time, but it’s better than a dress!
So here we are, two best friends, the best ever,
One thing is sure, we will always be faithful to each other.
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