- senior dogs
How to care for a dying dog

Senior dogs

Senior dogs require special care

My dog died. What to do when your dog dies

Grieving the loss of a dog

Senior dogs

Spend time with your senior dog in his golden years. Take lots of photos together - these will capture the happy times that you enjoyed with your dog. Your pet may begin to slow down toward the end of his life, yet he's still the same friend he has always been. As the dog is getting older, be willing to allow those walks to be slower. Let him take some time to smell the bunnies. Continue giving your senior dog moderate exercise that keeps his heart, lungs and muscles in good conditions as he ages. He will stay healthy and active years longer than an out-of-condition dog.

Good dog food will help the dog to get all the nutrients that his body needs at this stage in life. If you are noticing that your old dog is gaining extra weight, consider reducing the size of his meals. Extra weight takes toll on a dog's health and dogs in healthy weight tend to live considerably longer. Some senior dogs develop digestion or metabolism problems. For these dogs it may not be enough to simply reduce the size of their meals. They might need a different diet than the one that sustained them when they were younger. As your veterinarian to help you find the best way to keep your geriatric dog's weight under control.

Senior dogs may start losing hearing or vision. There are ways to test your dog's hearing and vision at home. The dog can still function quite well, as his other senses compensate somewhat for the loss.

The best way to prepare for the eventual loss of your dog is to make the most of your time together now. Live your life with your canine companion in such a way that you have few regrets. Treat him well, take good care of him, play with him, travel with him, and love him. Eventually the time will come for you and your beloved elderly dog to say good-bye to each other. As strange as this may be to believe, it is likely your very old dog will let you know when he is ready to let go. It may even be clear to you that he is asking you to help him be released. Or, your dog may pass quietly in his sleep. However you dog's death occurs, you may experience doubts about your actions or choices. You will also grieve and be intensely sad over your loss. These feelings are normal, but you don't have to suffer in silence. Speak to other dog owners that went through a similar loss.

My dog died

My dog died. After your pet passes away, you'll have to make the final arrangements. The most common methods of laying a pet to rest are cremation and full body burial. Most veterinarians offer cremation services and pet cemetery recommendations. If your vet doesn't, you can locate a private crematorium or pet cemetery through the Web site of the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories,

Grieving the loss of a pet

Many dog owners will tell you that most people did not understand the depth of their grief once their beloved dog passed away. One of the most insensitive things you can say to someone who is grieving a loss of a dog is "Why don't you just get another dog?" The feelings of someone who is grieving a loss of a pet can be so painful for several reasons that include the loss of unconditional love that the dog provided. Our dogs accept us as we are and love us for who we are. For some dog owners, their pet is the only social companion in the world due to depression or due to debilitating physical illness. The person relied only on that pet for support and love.

Grief can be complicated by various factors, such as guilt ("Did I do enough?"), pet euthanasia ("Was it really the right time?"), circumstances surrounding the loss ("I wish I had noticed her symptoms sooner, because she'd be alive today if I had"), reawakening of an old loss ("If a grieving person has unresolved feelings about handling a death of someone close in the past, the loss of a pet may intensify the old unresolved feelings.") Take the opportunity to achieve closure on the previous and on current losses. Suppressing the mourning is also not a good idea even if we feel that the tears may never stop if we allow them to begin.

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Through your grieving process remind yourself that you are not getting "over" the loss of your dog, but you are getting "through" it. You will always remember the special dog that passed away. Our goal is not to forget, but to get "through" and always keep the love in our hearts.

How can you help yourself during this difficult time? Be patient and kind with yourself. Find at least one person that you can talk to about your loss. Find a support group for pet loss and join it. Write down your thoughts and feelings about the pet you lost. Engage in a ritual - have a ceremony in a place special to you and your dog. Dispose of possessions gradually. First step is to move all the possessions to a different location from where the things were. Move your dog's bed from your bedroom to a different room for example. This helps the transition. Donate what you can to an animal organization when you are ready. Memoralize your pet by planting a tree, or creating a garden in his honor.

This is a difficult time and we can all learn from our animal friends that love makes such a big difference in this world.

Informational resources for dog owners:

How to care for a senior dog

Common health issues in older dogs

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