Q: How should I care for my older dog?
What changes can I expect as my dog ages?
Prepare for and help your older dog adjust to changes in the body and the canine mind.
Canine aging brings on a loss of agility, sight, hearing, smell — and a loss of interest in activities that once were fun. “You still want me to leap up and snatch that Frisbee out of the air at ten o’clock at night? Done there, been that.”
Your dog will become more sensitive to cold and heat. Despite eating less, fat will accumulate beneath that grey hair and slack skin. And plaque will accumulate more easily on the teeth he has left — so don’t neglect those dental appointments with the vet. In fact, more regular visits might be necessary so the veterinarian can monitor other changes. Among them: reduction in immune function and kidney function; demineralization of the skeleton; a possible increased susceptibility to benign or malignant tumors, and to heart or liver failure. It also might be harder for him to climb the stairs or jump up onto his favorite couch.
Upstairs in your dog’s mind, however, he might be more sensitive to things that didn’t used to bother him. Like noisy, ear-tugging children. Strangers. Or that cat he never really liked anyway.
With any luck, he still likes you. Many older dogs come to depend more than ever on the companionship of their humans. Prepare to spend more time together.
Even pull his ears — quietly.
Thanks to the vets at BluePearl Veterinary Partners (bluepearlvet.com) for this answer.
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