3 Tips about Proper Health Care for Your Newly Adopted Senior Dog

Posted on: 14 April 2016

If you have recently adopted a senior dog, you probably already appreciate the mellow nature and training that mature canines often have. However, in order to enjoy more years with your four-legged family member, it is important to understand that senior dogs often have specific health care and nutritional needs. Because of this, it will be a good idea to talk with your veterinarian about the following information.

#1-More Frequent Checkups for Senior Dogs

Due to the increased likelihood of a mature dog developing health problems, it is not uncommon for veterinarians to recommend more frequent medical checkups. While young, healthy dogs may only need to have a medical exam once a year, older dogs may benefit from having at least two appointments a year.

In between those visits, you should seek veterinary care if you observe any of the following symptoms:

  • sudden weight loss or loss of appetite

  • increase in appetite without a corresponding weight gain

  • excessive thirst

  • severe gastric distress (diarrhea or vomiting) for more than a day

  • unexplained increased thirst and/or urination

  • trouble moving

#2-Changes in Your Dog's Daily and Personality Habits

In the first few weeks of living with your new dog, you will get to know its personality traits, preferences, and habits. If any of those suddenly change, it could also indicate a new health challenge. Your dog could be showing signs of a problem by changing its behavior, even without the above physical symptoms that also can be an indicator of the same.

In that instance, be sure to check with the veterinarian as soon as possible. Even something as minor as a sensitivity to a new dog food or the grass outside could impact your older dog's ability to enjoy life. While some personality and behavior changes are common symptoms of aging, sudden changes could be a symptom of an underlying, treatable problem. If your dog is otherwise healthy, your veterinarian can still refer you to an animal behavior specialist so that you can remind your dog of acceptable behavior.

#3-The Right Dog Food, Treats, and Supplements

One common mistake that many new owners of mature dogs make relates to the dogs' nutrition. It is tempting to buy an inexpensive dog food, but cheap dog foods may not meet the nutritional needs of older dogs. For example, older dogs are prone to arthritis and other joint conditions, while some breeds are especially prone to hip dysplasia. One common preventative measure for these issues involves supplementing food with glucosamine & chondroitin, as medication, a treat, or in the dog's food.

Many specialty foods have glucosamine & chondroitin already in them. However, be aware that many of the dog foods currently available use fillers, which will make your dog full but provide less nutrition while doing so. Your veterinarian may want to do blood work on your dog at its first clinic visit to detect any nutritional deficiencies. Ask the vet if it will be necessary to provide vitamins to correct any existing nutritional deficits, like anemia, and what food will be the most appropriate choice for your newly adopted canine.

Again, senior dogs, especially those who did not receive adequate medical care when they were younger, are often more prone to certain health challenges. As the new pet parent of a mature dog, it is crucial to provide your dog with appropriate and timely medical care. Therefore, you should be sure to talk with your dog's health care provider about the preceding topics and work with that person to allow your pet to be as healthy as possible during its golden years. Contact an establishment like the Elizabethton Veterinary Clinic for further information.