old black lab dogKristen Seymour

Amy D. Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant and the award-winning author of 23 pet care books, including "Complete Care for Your Aging Cat" and "Complete Care for Your Aging Dog."

Do you love a senior citizen canine?

Join the crowd! Fifty percent of owners share their hearts with pets age 7 or older. Modern veterinary care helps many dogs stay healthy a decade or more, and small dogs sometimes double that and age gracefully well into their twenties.

A longer life increases the odds dogs develop "old fogy" problems, though. Medical help is important, but you can keep your old-timer happy and healthy with simple and/or inexpensive tips for dealing with these eight common aging dog issues.

Arthritis: This can affect all dogs, but large breeds are most prone. Extra weight puts greater stress on the joints. Achy joints cause limping, difficulty climbing stairs or getting up after naps. A heating pad placed under the dog's bed soothes creaky joints. Gentle massage as well as OTC supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids and glucosamine-type products also help. Low-impact exercise -- walks or swimming -- and slimming down pudgy pooches delays problems. Provide steps -- even a cardboard box -- to help old dogs navigate stairs or hop onto the sofa.

Cataracts: Dogs suffer from cataracts more than any other species, but blindness rarely slows them down. They compensate by relying more on sense of smell and hearing. Owners may not notice vision loss unless the dog visits unfamiliar surroundings. Avoid rearranging furniture so blind dogs can rely on their memory of familiar landmarks. Baby gates placed near stairs protect blind dogs from falling. Avoid startling blind dogs by announcing your presence before walking near or petting. Blind dogs enjoy games with noisy toys they can hear or hide-and-seek with strong-scented objects.

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problems with thinning fur - 13 year old schnauzer (mini)
otherwise, ok

January 21 2014 at 2:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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