Caring for your aging canine - AmericaNowNews.com

Caring for your aging canine

Just like their human counterparts, many dogs are living longer these days. In the '70s, a dog generally lived seven or eight years. Today, the life expectancy for many dogs is 10 to 15 years. America Now pet pro Luciano Aguilar has the advice you need to keep your senior pet happy and healthy.

There's a good reason dogs are called "man's best friend." Their love is unconditional. And through all of life's up and downs, you can always count on your dog to be by your side. And, just as we get older, so do our dogs. The trick is to age gracefully and there's plenty you can do to help your dog do just that.

A dog's "senior" years typically begin around the age of seven, but it really depends on the dog's breed and size. Smaller dogs tend to live longer and fall into the senior category later in life than larger dogs. A dog that's 20 pounds or less might not show his age until he's 12. A 50-pound dog won't show his age until about 10. Larger dogs start to seem old when they're about eight. Whatever your dog's life expectancy is, how you care for him is important for his good health and happiness as he gets older.

There are a few things you'll notice as your dog ages. One of the tell-tale signs of aging is gray hair. Dogs start to get gray in the face around the age of five or six, but don't be misled -- some dogs can go gray prematurely.

Your dog will start to slow down, especially when getting up or down. Some of the age-related diseases you can see in dogs include: arthritis, diabetes, cancer and diseases of the kidney, heart and liver. Be sure to have your older dog's blood tested at least once a year.

Some dog breeds are known to have specific health problems as they age. Golden retrievers and other large breeds are known to develop arthritis in their backs and hips as they get older.

Hearing loss is common in older dogs and there's not a lot you can do about it. But have your dog examined to rule out other medical problems such as an infection, growth or foreign body lodged in his ear.

Like people, dogs can get cataracts. The clear lens behind the pupil becomes cloudy or white and causes the dog's vision to diminish over time. Eventually, cataracts can cause dogs to go blind. Just like the human body, the canine body is not meant to last forever, but there are things that you can do to slow down the aging process.

Obesity is a common problem. Don't overfeed your dog. You want to keep his weight down with good nutrition and regular exercise even if that exercise isn't as vigorous as it used to be.

Keep your dog's teeth clean. Periodontal disease is very common in dogs and can lead to other problems. And be sure to schedule regular vet check-ups. Just like with us, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Besides a good diet and regular exercise, make your older dog as much a part of your life as you can. Keep him active, interested and comfortable so his later years truly can be golden years.

Copyright 2011 America Now.  All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow