Managing your Aging Dog's Quality of Life

Senior hound dog lounging on the lawn with a friend
I'm standing at the counter of the North County Animal Shelter in San Diego paying for my dog's license when I hear a nearby cry. It's a puppy in one of the intake cages for new residents of the shelter. She's crying because standing right behind me is the boy who brought her in.

"Can I leave this for her," he says trying to avoid eye contact with his former pet. "She likes it." "It" is a rubber duck. The volunteer smiles and says that she'll make sure she gets it.

The dog, a young lab, less than 6 months old, is yelping away trying to paw it's way out of the cage. I offer to take the toy to the dog and the volunteer says it's OK and thanks me. She doesn't want the toy. She doesn't care to be pet. She wants to go home. Her home.

I ask the volunteer why the boy needed to leave the dog and she tells me that the dog is a return. She got a urinary tract infection and they couldn't pay for treatment.

Over a third of the cases that I've seen when researching material for where a dog was surrendered because of the owner's financial hardship. What the story above tells us is that this isn't a unique phenomenon to older dogs, however as a senior dog owner, you should recognize that just as we humans require extra care as we age, so do our canine companions.

Taking care of your dog and help them keep up with a regular exercise regimen is the best way to mitigate the effects of coming age as much possible, with the understanding that no remedy truly stops the affects of time. There are a lot of factors that come into play when considering how expenses can change as your dog ages including: health, existing injuries, size, breed proclivities to certain diseases, and allergies.

Make sure your budget includes room for changes in:
  • Food - As your dog ages it may require prescription food that includes supplements to help with a variety of issues, including newly acquired allergies or arthritis.
  • Supplements - Both store bought as well as prescribed to assist with regular bodily functions.
  • Other treatment and operations - Rashes brought on by bacteria that older dogs might have been less susceptible in their younger days and the removal the occasional fleshy mass (both cancerous and benign) can cost anywhere from several hundred to a couple thousand to address depending on the severity. Consider that vet recommended post treat recovery plans may help to keep the same issue from flaring up again with the same intensity.
Planning ahead and budgeting are the best way to address any upcoming issues so that financial matters are not the sole deciding factor in how you manage the quality of life for your four legged family members.

Related links:
Other Senior Dog Challenges and how to address them
The many benefits of sharing your life with senior dogs

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