Making Your Pet’s “Golden Years” More Golden

Is your dog acting a little different as he ages? Is he greeting you a little less enthusiastically? How is he navigating the stairs? Maybe not getting onto the bed or couch as much? (I know that never happened anyway. Right!) How about his muscle tone? Not quite the physique he once had. I can relate. Does he tire more easily when going on walks? I can relate again. Any changes in urinary or bowel habits? Wait a minute, am I talking about your dog or me?

Has your canine friend had a change in temperament, such as seeming more irritable, sleeping more, losing interest in playing, or acting like it is harder to get into a comfortable position for sleep? If you answered yes to any of these questions, while age might be a factor it could also be that your four-legged companion is experiencing some degree of pain. Like many of us, as they age, the aches and pains nag at them making it a little less easy to do our day-to-day activities.

The good news is there are many options to make your dog more comfortable and improve those “golden years.” Unfortunately, we all know we don’t live forever but at least we want our “quality of life” to be good. The same is true for our dogs. One of the first items to address is to make sure your dog is healthy in terms of their weight. As our pets age and get less active, their weight tends to gradually increase as well. You should be able to easily feel ribs but not see them. If you are observing your dog from the side, his abdomen should “tuck up” and while looking from above, there should be a waist. There are many options for diets for both obesity and age related conditions. Consult your veterinarian for dietary suggestions and amounts to feed.

Additionally, as pet parents you have two other common modalities for helping your dog be more comfortable. This would include what is termed as neutriceutical vs. pharmaceutical options. The former would be supplements that contain glucosamine HCL, Chondroitin Sulfates, and possibly MSM such as in either Vetscription Joint -Eze Advanced or Vetscription Joint-Eze Plus. There are also joint-specific diets available for the arthritic dog. The latter (drugs) is varied, but the most common form used is termed as NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Before using any of these medications, your dog’s organ function (especially kidney and liver) need to be evaluated. There are both liquid and tablet dog-specific NSAIDS available through your veterinarian. Most of these are used once daily and should be given with food or you can use the Vetscription Medi-Wraps to disguise the tablets and help with administration. The dog-specific NSAIDs have dramatically enhanced the quality of life issues in countless canines over the past decade plus.

While age is not a disease, the associated effects of the aging process does change how you dog may be feeling and change the way they act. There is no “fountain of youth” for our dogs, unfortunately, and by the way if you know of one I can drink from let me know. However, you can make your dog more comfortable, and enhance the quality of life during those “more mature years.” So, if Fido is maybe getting “a little long in the tooth” as some old-timers describe age, and acting a little different behaviorally, he may be experiencing some pain.

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