A Little Gray Around The Edges

I can tell the girls have reached middle-aged: they're going gray, Sadie's slowing down a bit and they've both changed their attitude over the years. I'd like to say they've mellowed out a little, but it's actually the opposite.

As dogs age they have different needs and issues than when they were puppies. (But the girls will be perpetual puppies, I'm sure.) The only thing that gives their age away is the gray around their muzzles. I think it looks distinguished.

Most noticeably, older dogs gain weight much more easily than they did when they were younger. They tend to be less active and we baby them with more treats because they seem so pitiful. Talk to your veterinarian about balancing amount and kinds of food with the activity level of your pet.

Sadie has severe hip dysplasia in both back legs, and the limping has gotten more noticeable as she's aged. Hip dysplasia and other degenerative conditions appear more frequently as dogs age, so be aware of changes in walking, running, sitting and laying down. See the vet about pain control medications if the conditions worsen.

Exercise is just as important in older dogs as it is in younger ones. They might not last as long on a walk as their puppy companions, but exercise is vital for respiratory, skeletal and muscular health. Take shorter walks and play less rigorous games. But don't cut everything out or you'll have a bored, fat, lazy dog instead of the best friend you have now.

Did you know that senior dogs can have dementia just like humans can? Often it starts with mood change and then forgetting their house training and socializing less with their humans. In all honesty, Bailey has been showing some of these signs every now and then. But this is also the dog who walks into a room, forgets why she's there and walks out again. There are lots of ways to battle this dementia, so talk to your vet about the options, like finding food with more antioxidants when you notice these symptoms.

We've decided that we're not going to slow down until the girls slow down. They may have a few years on them, but they're still active, happy and healthy. Of course they each have some troubles just like their humans do, so they're just taking life one day at a time - stopping to smell the roses, and whatever else happens to be laying around.


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