Your dog just turned 10 and suddenly you are extra worried about your pooch’s health and want to know everything you can do to make sure your best friend will be around for many more loving years. As the proud mom of a 9-year-old German Shepherd Dog I know the feeling all too well and as a professional dog walker I have seen my client’s dogs go through many physical changes and struggles over the years.
An article titled: “ Senior Dogs, Caring & Tips “published in the American Kennel Club website by the AKC staff with the assistance of Dr. Meadows from the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at UC Davis, shared some excellent tips on preventive care like creating a baseline health profile and “Body Map” for your dog as well as recognizing behavioral and cognitive changes like hearing loss or CCD ( Canine Cognitive Dysfunction ).
In a second article written by Audrey Wystrach for the Bark.com titled “ Six tips for caring for older dogs “preventive care was once again emphasized with more helpful tips ranging from dental hygiene to diet and exercise. The overall consensus is to pay attention to any behavioral and physical changes in your senior dog and to upgrade your veterinarian routine check to catch any possible health issues in the early stages.
Based on all these great tips from veterinarian and dog experts including my personal experience as a dog mom and as a dog professional, here is what you need to do to make your dog live a long healthy life:
- Take your dog to the vet every 6 months – Biannual routine health check ups with complete screening lab work will help you create a “Health Profile “of your dog to better understand his or her needs and what adjustments you will need to make for your beloved pooch.
- Pay attention and pet your dog – Petting your dog may sound like a given but 3 years ago I found a tiny little lump on my dog’s belly (which turned out to be a malignant tumor) while I was petting her and showing her affection. It was so tiny at the time that when I took her for a check up the doctor had a hard time finding it. Because I petted my dog, I was able to catch the cancer in its early stage and doctors were able to treat it successfully.
- “Seniorize” your dog’s diet and life style – Food is everything. We are what we eat and the same goes for our dogs. As they age, they will need to adjust their diet and calories intake based on their “health profile”. Their life style will see some changes too. Shorter walks or special accommodations like ramps or orthopedic dog beds will need to be provided.
Now that you know what to do for your senior pup, don’t procrastinate and schedule that appointment with your veterinarian and never forget to pet your dog.
Author: Rosanna Maderni