senior dogs

Senior dogs are less adaptable to, and more adversely affected by, stress and change. Yet so many dog owners do not take this into consideration when making plans involving their senior dog. For example, for years you and your dog enjoyed those races through the woods or around the playground. You may still enjoy it now, but your older dog possibly finds it difficult to keep up with you.

What used to be lots of fun may now make him a bit grouchy and force him to breathe abnormally hard. You have just redecorated the house, and what used to be your dog's favorite spot to relax in, is now occupied by a piece of furniture. Your dog becomes restless, temperamental, may even urinate or defecate in the house or right on that piece of furniture, and you cannot understand why.

It is not necessary to baby or spoil a dog just because he is aging. In fact, this should be carefully avoided, as it is a trap into which many dog owners readily fall. You should encourage your older dog to take part in family life as always, but you must be alert to avoid undue stresses or unnecessary changes. That piece of new furniture does not have to stand on the exact spot where he has snoozed for more than ten years. In his mind that spot is his personal territory. Even in his youth such a loss would have been upsetting, but he would soon find another acceptable location. The older dog finds it more difficult to adjust and can develop undesirable behavior as a result.

Related: 4 Common Aging Dog Problems 

A dog is both a dependent and an independent animal in his relationship with you. In youth he will follow your every footstep even to the point of getting underfoot. His greatest joy is to be with you everywhere, and there are few times he wants to be by himself. As he gets older, however, this will often change, and he may seek solitude much more of the time. He loves you still but, depending on his physical state, he just prefers to be by himself. He will play with you and be your companion, but do not expect necessarily the same kind of response you got from him when he was a lot younger.

Take care not to "kill him with kindness" by offering what you consider tasty morsels of human food such as cake, ice cream, bacon, or liver pate. Such sudden changes in diet can produce serious stomach and intestinal upset, resulting in profuse vomiting or diarrhea. It may also encourage your dog to refuse his normal food and hold out for the "goodies” which in time can cause severe nutritional imbalance.

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