Older, wiser, and oh so loveable

You know we love the all-energy, “me me me!” exuberance of puppies. But of course we love older dogs just as much – and we bet you do too. So, want to know how to help an older dog stay happy and healthy? Here’s some great advice from Banfield’s Jacquelyn Schrock, DVM.

Do pets change as they get older? What should pet owners watch for?

You know your pet better than anybody. As they start to age, look for things like changes in mobility – especially sudden changes, but also changes over time. Changes in mobility can indicate things like arthritic change, which we want to manage from a comfort standpoint.

Also watch for changes in appetite, in how much water your pet is drinking, and even in how frequently they're using the bathroom or if they're having accidents in the house. Although we don't typically associate those behaviors exclusively with older pets, they could all be indications that something is amiss in the body and needs to be addressed for your pet to have a great quality of life.

At a minimum, bring your pet in for a thorough veterinary exam and bloodwork twice a year. Changes in blood work can happen quickly as dogs age and can indicate changes in the organ systems and in the body. We want to stay on top of those changes and not get behind the 8-ball.

It feels like dogs get wiser? Is that possible?

Dogs learn over time, and they know that “if I do this, my owner is going to respond in a certain way.” But it’s also true that we adapt to our dogs – we get to know them better. So if our dog really loves to have his belly rubbed, we make sure we rub his belly every night before we go to bed. There's some wisdom associated with that give and take. Also, older pets typically know basic commands to stay, go outside, go to the bathroom… so they do probably seem wiser and more mature.

Would you recommend adopting an older dog?

Oh, definitely, it can be really rewarding. And in many ways, because older dogs tend to be more mellow, more trained, and better behaved, it’s easy to form strong bonds. They're more likely to watch a movie with you and cuddle up, right?

Some older dogs might prefer not to be in high energy situations or with kids, which is sometimes connected with pain and discomfort, so be on the lookout for that before adopting. And no matter what age pet you’re adopting, I think it’s a great idea to bring them to the vet, so we can be aware of any underlying health issues and stay on top of their wellness going forward.

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