You may notice your dog or cat slowing down as he or she gets a little on in years. Grey hairs can start poking out on the muzzle of a dog as young as five years old, depending on the breed. (Cats generally age a bit more slowly.) As these changes happen, your companion animal is going to need a little special care.
Extremes in temperature are going to be harder for your older companion animal to tolerate. The time he spends outside will have to be limited, both in cold and hot weather. Sweaters will help protect him on his winter walks. In the heat of the summer, schedule his exercise in the coolest parts of the day, and avoid the hot pavement.
Watch your older companion animalís weight. He may be exercising less, so monitor the amount and type of food you are feeding to make sure it takes this into account and he doesnít become overweight. Just as it is with humans, extra weight is not healthy for your pooch or kitty. On the other hand, since his sense of smell may not be as acute, it may be a little bit of a challenge to keep some companion animals interested in their food. (This is especially true of cats.) Just keep experimenting with different types of high quality food until you find what seems to work the best for your companion animal.
Your older companion animal will need to keep active to stay healthy. Regular gentle exercise will keep the blood circulating, keep muscles toned and make sure his internal organs keep functioning smoothly.
Soft bedding with orthopedic, heated or cool pads and a washable cover will help ease those old bones, and make cleanup easier in the event of "accidents."
Tumors, bumps, lesions, bad breath or other doggy or kitty odors need to be brought to your vetís attention, since they can be an indication of serious problems. Teeth should be kept clean and tarter free, since oral infections can cause many other health problems.
Diminishing vision, hearing, smell will bring about changes in your companion animalís personality. Changes in temperament should be mentioned to your vet, as they are often indicators of aches and pains that your old companion may otherwise be quite stoic about.
Veterinary care has made great advances in geriatric medicine, and with your vetís help, you should be able to extend your companion animalís life beyond what it would have been even a few years ago. Your relationship with your companion animal throughout these "golden years" can be very rich and rewarding. Stay involved with him just like you did when he was a pup, and both of your lives will be enriched.
Walk With an Old Dog
will not be forever
walked with me in springtime
shared with me my sorrows
years have slowed your fleetness
do not fear the future
day will soon be coming
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