Making the Most of your Dog’s Final Days
Accepting your dog is in the autumn of its life is hard, but there are plenty of ways to make your best friend’s final days easier.
When we bring a new puppy home we are filled with joy and excitement at the lifetime that you will spend together as best friends. That, though, is true for only one party – although it never bears thinking about, you will one day have to face the fact that their legs just aren’t what they once were.
Despite your companion taking longer to get up and less keen to chase after their ball, you can still ensure that your dog has an enjoyable later life.
Here are some ways to make the most of your dog’s final days:
Move Essentials Close Together
With your dog’s more fragile body in mind, move their everyday essentials as close together as possible. If their dog bed is upstairs and bowl downstairs, make sure that everything is on the same floor. Their legs will be thankful for not having to climb up and down the stairs all day.
If you are able to place a bed and bowl in the same room, ideally the kitchen, this will be a big bonus and something that, if not already in place, should definitely be considered.
Make Time for Play
Your dog requires more rest than it used to, but that does not mean to say that it does not enjoy playing with you. Play time may not be as rough as it once was, but it remains a key factor in your dog feeling loved, its general morale and exercise.
Long walks are probably out of the question now and, even if they can handle it, it will most certainly take it out of them for the rest of the day. Taking your dog to a local park and playing with them outside is a good way to still take your dog out, so as they get to experience new sights and smells.
Considering their Bathroom Needs
Older dogs are going to need to go to the toilet more regularly, just as we do as we get older. Unfortunately, this can lead to accidents happening from time to time in the house.
One way of dealing with this problem is to set up a designated area inside your home, specifically for your dog to do their business if they are unable to go out into the garden. Dogs relate to grass as a toilet, so installing fake grass inside will help to recognize this area as a toilet.
Fake lawn can easily be washed and cleaned, leaving your home free of any bad odours and keeping your carpets free of dog mess.
Older dogs have different nutritional requirements than younger ones. From the age of seven (dependent on the breed) dogs begin to slow down; as does their metabolism – a high protein, low-fat diet will help conquer weight gain.
Simply watching what you feed your dog for set meals is one thing, but many owners can easily forget – or overlook – the type and amount of treats they give.
Everyone has given the odd leftover to the dog over the years when they put you on a guilt trip of a lifetime with their sad eyes. As a dog gets older these small treats add up and become harder to work off. Low-fat biscuits as treats for your dog are great alternatives to dinner leftovers – carrots also come highly recommended by veterinarians as they resemble the structure of bones and are calorie-free.
Taking your dog to a veterinarian regularly for body check-ups will help keep on top of your companion’s condition, and hopefully catch anything early on before becoming serious. Vets can offer helpful advice tailored to each specific dog’s needs and will be best placed to advise on what signs to watch out for as they become older.
Some of the things that vets will check for on older dogs are blood sugar levels (diabetes), hip dysplasia and heart problems amongst others. Cancerous tumours, although can crop up at any time, are more likely to appear in older dogs – if not spotted early, these can become untreatable.
Try to Keep Everything the Same
While you will want to change anything possible to accommodate your dog, what they will most appreciate is routine and stability. Changing the whole house around will do nothing for your dog’s comfort levels, and can upset their daily routine and incur stress, which is the last thing needed in later life.
If your dog’s eyesight has deteriorated they may be reliant on the memory of where furniture has been placed to compensate for blurred vision. Keep floors clear of clutter to avoid accidents, and place toys and dog bedding in their favourite spots.
As your dog begins to show signs of age it can be a heart-breaking process, one that still won’t ever prepare you for when the day does come. By making everyday life a little bit easier for your best friend, both you and your dog will be able to make your final days together.
Author Bio: Martin Peterson has been around dogs the entirety of his life and cannot imagine being without his furry companions. As the current owner of an eccentric black Labrador, Martin more than has his hands full at home!