When you first bring home that animated ball of fur, your puppy's antics bring you no end to laughter.There are challenges in training him; your patience is tried as he goes through the destructive chewing phase. But within a few months you have a dog that fits your idea of the perfect companion. You enjoy many years of fun adventures and glorious outings together. But at some point around the age of seven years, your beloved friend will start to show signs of aging. The exact age varies from breed to breed and dog to dog; larger dogs usually show signs of age earlier than smaller dogs do, but the years catch up to all of them. Here are some signs to watch for and some ways to help your old friend out:
ObesityMany owners neglect to change their dog's diet as he ages. A young, strong adult dog burns off more calories in a day than an older dog. Feed a diet formulated for senior dogs. Make sure you're giving him the appropriate amount of food. Remember that table scraps and treats add to the overall calories your dog is taking in, and adjust his food accordingly. Modify your dog's exercise routine, but keep him active enough to keep his weight down. A slim dog will be healthier and more active through his golden years.
ArthritisArthritis is a common ailment in older dogs affecting joints. If your dog is having trouble getting up or down, takes longer to get moving and moves slower, and no longer jumps up or takes the stairs as often, take him to the vet. There's no cure for arthritis, but your vet can help you find treatments and therapies that can ease the discomfort. Keeping your dog at an ideal weight can help ease arthritis as well.
BlindnessMany older dogs develop cataracts. Their eyes may appear cloudy or opaque. If caught early enough, cataracts can be removed and your dog's eyesight can be improved. If your dog does go blind, help him out. Leave the furniture in the same place so he learns to avoid it. Try to limit the number of steps he has to navigate or carry him up and down stairs if possible.