Caring for Your Poodle as He Ages

It seems impossible. That adorable little puppy you brought home long ago is now fifteen years old, officially a senior citizen. It may be going through some changes you aren’t sure how to handle. This article discusses some ideas important to poodle care of the aging dog.

Arthritis

Especially in the standard poodle (the largest size), joints may become painful and stiff as the dog ages. Watch for signs of limping or having difficulty climbing up or down stairs or hopping onto the bed or the couch. If your poodle does show signs of arthritis, make sure it has a soft bed to sleep upon. Continue to exercise your poodle a little bit every day. If these measures don’t give your poodle relief, talk to your vet about anti-inflammatory medications.

Incontinence

Your aging poodle may not have the bowel and bladder control that it used to. Don’t scold your poodle for accidents. Arrange to take it outside to relief itself more frequently.

Obesity

Senior dogs require less food than puppies and poodles in their prime. Part of poodle care is to monitor your pet’s nutritional needs. If your poodle is gaining weight, talk with your vet about feeding it less, or perhaps switching to a dog food made specifically with the nutritional needs of senior dogs in mind.

Dementia

Poodles don’t get Alzheimer’s, per se, but they may suffer from an Alzheimer’s-like condition. Poodles with dementia will wander aimlessly around the home, not appearing to recognize familiar objects. They may even interact differently with their human family. Talk to your vet about medications that may help. Some dog owners have found extra Vitamin E to be effective as well.

Cancer

Around 40% of standard poodles eventually succumb to different types of cancer. Watch for the early warning signs which include a swelling or tumor on any part of the body, unintentional weight loss, lethargy, passing blood, or difficulty urinating or defecating.

Increased Vet Visits

As your poodle gets older, part of good poodle care is making sure it gets to the vet at least twice a year. The vet can run a series of blood and urine tests to look for common health problems such as kidney disease. If the problems are present, you can start treating them before symptoms even occur.

End of Life Decisions

Many dogs die peacefully of natural causes, but all too often, it is up to the owner to make a decision about euthanasia. Difficult as this decision may be, poodle care means not letting your dog suffer. When you’re struggling with the euthanasia question, ask yourself a series of questions.

Is the pet still eating and drinking? An animal that has stopped taking in nourishment is likely to die soon anyway.

Does the pet still experience pleasure? This can be a tough call–pleasure is a nebulous term, very difficult to define–but basically, does your poodle still enjoy interacting with you and your family, chewing on its toys, taking short walks, etc.?

Is your pet’s existence a dignified one? Poodles are proud creatures. Would your pet be proud of the shape it is in now?

Is there a chance for recovery? Can your poodle get well again, or at least regain some of its former abilities?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, it may be time to say goodbye to your friend.

Other Issues

The properĀ diet and nutrition throughout life can help your poodle enjoy a long, healthy old age. The next article looks carefully at your poodle’s dietary needs.

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