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You have had your dog a long time and are noticing that he is not the spry young pup he used to be.  He is mature now and may need some special care.  Large dogs usually do not live as long as smaller breeds and therefore age differently.  Usually around 7-12 years of age you will notice your dog slowing down and or having a few health problems such as obesity, arthritis and dental problems.  Here are some tips on caring for your older dog regarding the above mentioned ailments.  

Obesity

What this can lead to...  

Diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes)
Joint, bones and ligament damage
Difficulty breathing
Decreased liver function
What you can do...
Increase your dog's easy exercise (if your older dog is having pain with this consult a veterinarian)
Decrease the portions slightly at meal time
Have a weight in mind for your dog's breed and control snacking and large meals
Commercial dog foods: purchase one for your dog's breed, age and weight  

*Please have a veterinarian examine your dog if you feel there are other medical problems pertaining to your older dog's weight gain and get a diet recommended from the veterinarian if you are unsure.

Arthritis

Large dogs usually develop arthritis before a smaller dog.
Over weight dogs suffer more from arthritis than fit dogs because the extra weight puts excess strain on the joints.

What you can do...
Put your dog on a diet if he is over weight for possible prevention and comfort.  Before or during the earliest stages of joint pain or arthritis you may want to look into vitamins for your dog that contain Omega 3 which may help prolong joint function. Have a comfortable bed for your dog in a draft free area if possible.  

Dental problems and bad breath

What this can lead to...  

Bacteria in your dog's mouth will cause bad breath and can also lead to more serious conditions such as periodontal disease.  This bacteria enters the bloodstream and could possibly lead to liver, heart, brain and kidney damage or failure.  Please contact your veterinarian if you feel or see dangerous swelling or broken teeth in your dog's mouth.  An oral surgeon may need to extract a tooth or administer an intensive cleaning if there is an infection.

What you can do...  

With regular twice a week brushing of your dog's teeth, bad breath can usually be lessened. Tartar control snacks, dry food and bones are not enough to get all the bacteria out, a brush should be used.  There are many savory flavors of dog toothpastes available at pet stores.  Do not use human toothpaste on your dog’s teeth since dogs cannot spit it out and swallowing toothpaste is harmful.  

Elderly dogs need a little tender loving care. With the use of some of these tips your older dog may be healthier and more comfortable. Enjoy your dog's golden years and know that you are doing what you can to make your dog comfortable and feel loved.
Author: Shellie Willetts



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