Veterinary Changes Your Dog Needs As A Senior
When your dog was young, you probably only took them to the vet for shots or annual checkups. Most younger dogs don't need much more medical care than the simple basics unless they get into an accident or suffer from certain conditions, such as skin allergies or food sensitivity. As your dog ages, you will notice that they need extra care in many ways, including changes in their veterinary needs. Learn about some of these changes here.
When you take your older dog into the vet, the vet will likely want to do a senior exam on them. A senior exam usually involves checking their joints for arthritis and their teeth and gums for decay or infection. Blood work may also be done if your dog has been gaining or losing weight to see if their thyroid or kidneys are working as they should. Your vet may also recommend bringing your dog in 3 or 4 times a year instead of biannually.
When you take your senior dog in for its normal vaccinations, your vet may suggest vaccinating them every other year. This is done to avoid over-taxing your aging dog's immune system. Shots that will still be given routinely include rabies and Bordetella, which are needed every year.
You may notice that your older dog doesn't eat as much as they used to, or that they aren't as active as they once were. This is another veterinary concern where their diet needs to be addressed. Older dogs often need less protein in their diets than their younger counterparts, and too much protein in their regular dog food can lead to kidney issues or lethargy. Your vet will want to monitor your dog's weight and help you choose the best dog food for your senior dog.
Older dogs are far more susceptible to temperature changes than younger dogs, and often need to be kept indoors when it is very cold or hot outside. You will need to always make sure your aging dog is kept out of the sun when it is hot and has warm bedding to sleep in when it is cold. If your dog is primarily kept outdoors, your vet will want to ensure that you provide a covered shelter, ample food and water, and a clean area for your dog to lie down in. It's also wise to have a fenced yard so you can keep other neighborhood dogs away from your senior dog, since they are less able to protect themselves in a confrontation due to age.
Be prepared to make use of veterinary services more frequently as your dog ages. Your vet will want to be involved in the food you feed your dog, its provisions when you are not at home, and may alter vaccination schedules to better suit your dog's current health. If you work with your vet concerning your dog's age, you can enjoy your canine friend for many more happy, healthy years.