It’s so hard to watch your baby get older and less active. My oldest is now 14 years old. He came to live with us when he was 9 weeks old. He has been my constant companion for all this time. I know that many of you are going through the same thing.
As dogs get older they go through many changes bot physically and mentally. They will need some extra help getting through their golden years.
There are 8 things that my veterinarian told me to do to keep my dog as healthy and happy as possible in his declining years.
#1 More frequent trips to your veterinarian
Because so many illnesses come with age, it is a good idea to increase your yearly check-ups. Often cancers and organ diseases can happen as your dog grows older. Early detection is the key to curing or treating these ailments.
#2 Extra beds and blankets
As dogs get older they usually sleep more. My Chico used to follow me everywhere, now sometimes I have to go look for him and find him sleeping somewhere. He still prefers to be close to me, and yours will too. Putting a bed or soft blanket in every room will help him to do that. He can sleep and rest, but still be close to you. Make sure they are soft. Often older dogs have stiff joints and lying on a hard floor could be painful.
#3 Keep them comfortable
As dogs get older it is harder for them to regulate body temperature. So be sure that they are cool enough in the summer and warm enough in the winter. Chihuahuas are sensitive to cold at any age, but even more so as they age. Fans in the summer and coats and sweaters in the winter may help. They may even need a sweater in the house if you like to keep it cool.
Remember that older dogs don’t regulate body temperature as well as when they are younger, so even if it’s comfortable to you, it may be too cool for them.
#4 Stairs and ramps
Just like us, as dogs get older they may have stiff joints and less mobility. If you have stairs, a ramp would be a great help for them. If they sleep with you, they may no longer be able to jump onto the bed. Again, a ramp would help. Having a ramp where needed also helps them to stay near you.
Yes, Chihuahuas are small and easy to just pick up and carry, but let them have their independence as long as possible.
#5 Diet change
When dogs get older their dietary needs change. They need more of some things and less of others. Do your research or talk to your veterinarian to help you choose the right food for your dog. Even if you don’t need to change their food, you will likely need to change the amount and add supplements.
#6 Dental care
Dental care is necessary at any age, especially for a Chihuahua, but even more so as they get older. Periodontal disease can cause other problems besides their teeth. It may also be harder for them to chew their food which can be a choking hazard. It may also be painful for them to chew.
#7 Keeping active
Staying active can keep their bodies and minds younger longer. It’s good for you too. The more active they are the healthier they will be. Continue throwing them their favorite ball or keep playing with them. Daily walks are a necessity as long as it is not painful for them. Keep in mind that now they will get tired quicker, so maybe make your walks a little shorter. Let them go at their own pace. They won’t be able to keep up with you so, slow it down.
#8 Weight control
Just as older dogs need different nutrients, they will also need fewer calories. It’s so important in their senior years to maintain a proper weight. Keeping active as long as possible will help and feeding them less of the right food will also help. Give them healthy vegetables and they may need vitamins and dietary supplements.