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wikiHow to Care for Your Older Dog

The first time you call his name and he doesn't move - you panic. It's been a great 16-some years, but now your dog is getting old. Here's how to make it more comfortable for both of you.


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    Prepare yourself and watch closely for signs of aging. Some dogs' coats begin to gray, they don't jump up as quickly when they see you, they may not see you completely (cataracts, glaucoma, etc.), walking up stairs may take a bit longer, they may not respond when you call them, they seem to have forgotten most of their training - or they may seem to mope a little more each day or act grumpy.
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    Keep up your regular vet visits. Some ailments are a part of natural aging, however you never know when that frequent urination is because of a larger problem. When your dog is older, you can't overlook what may seem like a temporary problem.
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    Keep up the regular exercise schedule. Just tone it down a bit within Old Yeller's comfort zone. Exercise keeps those old arthritic bones oiled.
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    Change to a lighter food made specifically for senior canines. Many dogs gain or lose weight with age, so keep an eye on the diet. Your dog can benefit from the same nutrients as you, so try to choose whole foods with antioxidants, omega 3's, alpha linolenic acid (ALA)(to help reduce inflammation) - ProPlan and Nutro have holistic foods for seniors.
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    Change your dog over to a vaccination schedule of every three years (recommended by major veterinary colleges).
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    Keep your dog engaged - lots of hugs and touching. If she's disinterested in her old toys, try something new - softer, smaller, squishier.
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    Invest in door/baby gates and play pens and don't rule out puppy pads. Old boy doesn't want to go in the house, but sometimes it goes otherwise.
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    Get a great, comfy pet bed but not too high so as to make it difficult to step into.
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    Look for softer treats that can be tolerated by older, worn teeth. Maybe even give a little canned food occasionally. Dry food can be moistened with water to make for easier chewing.
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    Groom your pal regularly. Keep the teeth clean (if possible), check the ears, skin and coat for irregularities. Be sure to keep everything flea-free and avoid harsh chemicals.


  • Give your pal a bit of time to get it moving in the morning before attempting a walk.
  • Stay on the lookout for:
    • Lack of appetite or over-eating.
    • Not drinking water.
    • Weight loss or gain.
    • Lumps, bumps, or non-healing sores.
    • Increased snoring, coughing, or sneezing.
    • Bad breath and/or drooling.
    • Brittle nails and lack luster coats.
  • Handle your dog very very carefully.
  • Keep the house clear of obstacles if your dog is losing eyesight. Try not to rearrange the furniture.
  • Consider adding a dietary supplement like glusomine/chrondotin if your dog seems overly stiff.
  • Remain calm. Your older pal may pick up new habits not exhibited before (suddenly becomes a garbage picker, etc.) Don't yell, just give stern discipline and save your blood pressure.
  • If calling fails, try clapping your hands to get your dogs attention.
  • Consider alternative treatments (acupuncture, JMT) to help your pet deal with the natural discomforts aging sometimes brings.
  • Avoid bring any new animals into the household.
  • Don't give your dog food that is too hard as it will harm your pet's jaw and could cause damage to it.
  • As dogs age, they will begin to have trouble playing the games they energetically enjoyed in their youth. Consider a long, slow walk instead of vigorous, high energy games like fetch and tug of war.

Article Info

Categories: Canine Health