It can be worrisome when our four-legged friends start to slow down in their senior years. While we know aging is inevitable for our beloved fur babies, navigating old age in dogs can be trickier than caring for a puppy, especially if you’ve never cared for a senior pet. Whether you’ve adopted a senior pet from the Belmont County Animal Shelter or if your special friend has been with you from the beginning, we hope the following information can help you both along the way.

Schedule a veterinary visit.

Like aging humans, senior pets need more care. If your dog is getting on up in age, call the veterinarian. In addition to a standard physical, they’ll likely ask you questions about how you care for your pets. They may want to know what food you are feeding them and how often they exercise. Veterinary Practice News contributor Mary Gardner, DVM, asserts that just because your pet is past mid-life doesn’t mean that they’ll automatically suffer with impaired balance, weakness, and other geriatric issues.

Keep them safe.

Older dogs are also like humans in that they might be more sensitive to different weather situations. For example, when it’s more than 85 degrees outside or you’ve got frigid weather, it’s best to keep your furry friend indoors. When you do let them go outside for bathroom breaks or exercise, it might be best to ensure they have a fenced area to do this. Even older dogs can get distracted by passing cars and nearby animals. If you don’t have a fenced yard, stick to keeping your pet leashed.

Reduce their alone time.

If you don’t work from home, one of the most difficult aspects of owning a senior animal is having to leave them every day. Although elderly animals can be left alone up to six hours, Tractive cautions that health issues might make it harder on them. Find a way to ensure they have access to human care if you are going to be away more than six hours. If you can’t be home and do not have nearby friends and family, look for a pet sitter that can come by for a visit. A quick check can ensure your pet has food and water, a bathroom break, and companionship, which can help them get through the day until you arrive home.

Monitor their diet.

Just because your dog has been eating the same food since he was a puppy doesn’t mean that it’s right for him now. If your dog is overweight, it might be time to switch them to a reduced-calorie diet. Pet M.D. notes that animals with an abundance of extra fat are more prone to cancer, diabetes, and other diseases. You may also want to supplement their diet with things like glucosamine and DHA. Dogs with kidney disease may also fare best when switched to a diet specifically with a reduced sodium content. If you suspect that your dog is not eating the right food, your veterinarian can help you choose between a prescription diet or a simple modification of their current food. It’s true that many formulas are very pricey, so if you can’t afford a prescription option, talk to your vet about alternatives, and then see if sites like Chewy carry what you’re looking for at a decent price.

Your aging pet is a crucial part of your family. Treat them that way by paying closer attention to them as they age. While they may not yet show outward signs, age can affect their quality of life, so do everything you can to ensure their health and comfort.

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