Time flies…it seems like only yesterday he was your puppy, but old age has a way of sneaking up on dogs, as it does on humans. Aging is such a gradual process that you may not even notice that your pet doesn’t have the energy she once had. She may be getting gray around the muzzle and less interested in chasing the rabbits or squirrels in the back yard, and although most dogs ease into old age without any personality changes, some get a little stubborn or even cranky. While you can’t turn back time, you can keep your pet comfortable, happy, and by your side for a long time, by paying just a little extra attention to your canine companion.
*Have regular medical exams..schedule twice a year check ups. Don’t wait until you notice something wrong. Do complete body checks at home on a weekly basis, and if you notice any lumps, bumps, or changes in behavior, contact your vet immediately.
*Keep her paws moving. Daily exercise will help keep her slim and flexible and help stave off various age related disorders, such as digestive problems or arthritis. Play should be fun, but not strenuous. Too much exercise can lead to soreness or injury.
*Watch his weight. Obesity is a big contributor to age-related problems such as heart disease and arthritis.
*Consider changing his diet, perhaps adding more fiber, or vitamins or minerals that might be good for him. Always ask your vet before making adjustments .
*Switch to healthy treats. Substitute a raw carrot in place of a dog biscuit.
*Remember that older dogs are very sensitive to extremes in temperatures. Provide a warm, soft bed with extra padding to provide comfort for his joints and muscles.
*Make sure he is safe. Many dogs begin to lose some of their hearing, and their sight may not be the best, so they are more vulnerable to accidents. Take a few extra precautions on their behalf.
*Teach the kids to be respectful of an older dog’s space. Be sure your dog has a safe place of his own where he will not be bothered.
*Comfort is key as your dog ages. She needs to feel warm, safe, and secure, with your love and companionship, and an extra measure of care and attention. Don’t disappoint her. Remember, old friends are best friends!
WALK WITH AN OLD DOG, by Gayl Jokiel
Because you will not be with me forever, hope against time though I may,
I paint your picture in my memory…eyes faded with age, muzzle gray.
You walked with me in Springtime, puppy-clumsy, running wild,
But as you grew, we grew together—you became a part of me.
You shared my smiles and were with me in my sorrows,
Not understanding, but simply, quietly, easing my pain.
True and loyal, you made my life better, always bringing happiness.
The years have slowed you down, but your spirit is still strong.
Because you do not fear the future, living only in the now,
I draw strength from your example as time keeps slipping away.
The day will come when you will no longer rise to greet me,
But in my memory you will always walk with me.