Living with Senior Dog

I can't see too well...

I was reading about how you should care for a senior dog. My teacup Yorkie, Benji will be 13 years old this year and can hardly see. He can make out shadows of things but combined with hearing loss, gets startled easily, especially if he can not recognize what he is dealing with. Yorkies can live to the age of 15-17 with few problems, so to help him and keep myself sane, I have been reading up on tips about living with a senior dog.

1. By this time you should have found a veterinarian who has seen your dog regularly and knows his pre-existing aches and pains. Your pet should be seen every six months to catch the on-set of more serious troubles early on.

2. With aging common problems develop in dogs. It's not a bad idea to read up and inform yourself about what to expect and what treatment options are available.

3. Diet plays a key role in your dog's health and you should consult with your vet what the best brand would be. My Yorkie is very picky and will not eat any dry food, let alone plain- can't say I blame him. I buy small size Gerber baby food, Beef or Chicken made without onions and mix half a jar with a bit of Royal Canine Mini Yorkshire dry food. Depending on the veggie du jour, some of that get's smashed in as well. I warm the food up for 20sec and make sure it's not too hot before giving it to him. The baby food tends to soften the hard food just enough to make it easier to eat. His fur looks great and knock on wood he eats all his food!

4. Be careful not to overfeed your dog, since obesity will create health problems and shorten his life. My Yorkie is a bad eater, period, but we used to have a Cocker Spaniel that one day ate so much that he fell over and just lay on his side for a while. Gave us a good scare and a great lesson, that some dog's apparently do not know when to stop!

5. Exercise is a good thing even for an old dog, but do not expect him/her to romp around as they used too. Adjust to their changing abilities. My Yorkie will walk from the house to the curb and then decide I can carry him the rest of the way. So our exercise consist of me carrying him through the neighborhood, with the occasional:"OK, let's walk a bit.." But Benji does enough running around in the house and is slender, so he does not need to run laps through the neighborhood.

6. Dental health is important and you should brush your dog's teeth as often as possible. Every so often teeth should be cleaned professionally, especially if your vet notices too much plague built up.

7. Major veterinary associations advise that older dogs can be vaccinated only once every three years. Discuss this with your pet's vet.

8. A clean environment translates into a healthy dog. Make sure to give regular baths and wash out bedding and toys.

9. Buy ramps. A lot of dogs like to sit right next to you on the sofa, so provide a ramp to prevent further strain on joints from jumping off.

10. Old dogs, sometimes have problem controlling their urine. For indoor pets, make sure to let them out frequently.

Considering how much our pets have become a part of our families, it is nice to make our aging friends part of the daily activities to keep them interested in their surroundings, playful happy and most importantly healthy!

I found a list of veggies and fruits that are good for dogs, but recommend that you check with your vet to see if he/she agrees with the addition of these items to the diet and only then gradually introduce the dog to them.

Apples (they contain potassium, which stimulates the immune system, and pepsin, which helps the stomach)
* Broccoli (rich in vitamins)
* Carrots (rich in vitamins, great treats to substitute for biscuits)
* Cabbage (rich in vitamins, good for digestive system and skin)
* Cucumber (good for teeth and bones due to potassium content; can combine with carrots to promote a healthy liver and kidneys; in juice form, a good diuretic … peel cucumbers unless organically grown)
* Celery (chopped or juiced; can help with arthritis)
* Garlic (removes waste from blood, can help repel fleas; use fresh garlic finely minced)
* Green beans (lightly steamed; healthy and low-cal treat)
* Parsley (can reduce allergy symptoms and aid kidney function; chop finely or boil parsley and add the juice over food)
* Kale (rich in antioxidants and can help reduce allergy symptoms)
* Spinach (very healthy; serve chopped)
* Bananas (in small quantity; a coveted treat)
* Olive oil (a tablespoon a day is good for skin and fur)

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