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Monday, Oct. 31, 2011
Chattapets: Proper diet and exercise ease dogs into old age

Just like humans, our dogs (and cats) age. They get gray hair, their vision and hearing diminish, they move a little slower and require more doctor visits. There are measures you can take, though, to help your dog sail into old age with ease.

"Taking an active role in your dog's health care can be a positive experience for both you and your pet," said Heidi Ganahl, CEO and founder of pet-services company Camp Bow Wow. She offers the following tips on caring for an aging dog.

  1. Learn about conditions common to senior dogs before your pet reaches this stage. Be alert to any symptoms of disease associated with old age, and promptly bring them to your vet's attention.
  2. Take your older dogs for veterinary checkups every six months. Establish a close working relationship with your pet's primary-care physician, as this should be someone who you feel comfortable with and can trust.
  3. Feed your older dog the highest quality of food you can afford. Ask the vet for advice about your pet's individual nutritional requirements, and consider a home-prepared diet and two small meals daily, rather than one large one. Excess weight can aggravate many canine medical conditions, including heart, respiratory, skin and joint problems, so monitor food portions.

4, Give your senior dog adequate exercise, adjusted to his abilities. Fifteen minutes of massaging and stretching every day will raise your dog's sense of well-being. Swimming and other low-impact activities are great for dogs with joint pain.

  1. Keep your senior dog active, happy and comfortable. Spend quality time with your pet regularly, or create opportunities for your pet to socialize with other animals, even in her senior stages.

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