The usual signs of aging are:
1) Gray hair around the muzzle.
2) Skin and coat become drier.
3) Movement is slowed. It will take Fido longer to lie down or
get up. He does not take steps two at a time anymore.
4) Movement can appear stiff, especially after lying down.
5) Hearing and eyesight deteriorate.
6) Teeth show signs of wear and tear.
7) More time is sleeping sleeping and less in play with you and other dogs.
8) Some dogs become incontinent and some older dogs develop bad smells.
Not a pretty picture but not much unlike our own aging patterns!
Usually, however, you’re aging along with your dog. While Fido may no longer
want to go hiking with you, you may welcome a quieter dog who just wants to
watch TV with you.
It’s still important to take your dog to the vet at least once a year.
Some of the symptoms above can be mitigated by medication or special diets.
Some of the symptoms above are exaggerated by physical conditions such as
arthritis that can be treated. There are a range of prescription and
alternative treatments available to dogs today. There are special diets,
there is acupuncture, there are chiropractic treatments, aromatherapy.
Just about any treatment for humans now has a canine equivalent.
The other good news is that contrast to the old wives tale, you can teach
an old dog new tricks. You use the same techniques that have worked
on your dog in the past.
Sometimes older dogs are perceived as being harder to train because of them
behavior patters are more ingrained. It may take longer to teach Fido a new
trick but your patience will be rewarded.
One other thing – do not let your pet insurance lapse as your dog ages. Most
insurance companies have an age cut-off beyond which they will not accept new
policy holders. The most frequent cut-off point is 8-years-old age for small breed
dogs. If you have a decent policy, hangon to it.