BLOG: The grace of older pets

Allison M Cooper
York Dispatch
TJ and Audrey Hepburn

Each week, on Thursday, I post a #tbt photo of our beloved dog TJ Cooper-Frisch, on our Tuggy_yellowlab Instagram account (that's right, we have one). TJ died in 2014. He had been an adopted older dog and a member of our family who brought an incredible richness to our lives in the short time we were his humans.

Each Thursday, I post a Tug Life blog installment. So for the next few weeks, the Thursday blog will be devoted to older dogs, including adopting for them, caring for them and even losing them.Tug is our 11-month-old puppy, who brings very distinct joys and challenges to our life.

While discussions about older pets can be difficult - many people want to think about, and adopt, puppies for this reason - older pets bring grace and joy to a household. Caring for an older pet allows us to be giving in ways that have untold rewards.

In order to care for our older pets, there are some basics we should know. Of course, your dog's veterinarian is your No. 1 source for information. But here I share some basics from the American Veterinary Medical Association:

— Cats and small dogs are considered geriatric at 7 years old. Large dogs are considered so at 6.

— Geriatric pets can be affected by the following health issues:

  1. cancer
  2. heart disease
  3. kidney/urinary tract disease
  4. liver disease
  5. diabetes
  6. joint or bone disease
  7. senility
  8. weakness

Older pet care considerations include:

  1. Increased veterinary care
  2. Evolving diet and nutrition
  3. Weight control
  4. Parasite control
  5. Maintaining mobility
  6. Vaccinations
  7. Mobility
  8. Lifestyle/Environment changes
  9. Reproductive diseases for those not spayed and neutered

Dogs and Cats in human years