The stereotypes of aging in humans often cross species, and they can be seen in our pets as well. Dogs can become grumpy with old age, too; their stomachs don’t digest food as well; their joints ache when the weather changes. New situations are disconcerting rather than exciting, and rambunctious youngsters make them fearful of being injured.
Wikipedia lists the effects of aging on dogs, which reads very much like a list of the effects of aging on humans: loss of hearing and vision, reduced activity and weight gain, physical system problems, senility, heart murmur and diabetes.
Careful monitoring of your dog’s health, and the response to any changes, can go a long way toward extending his life and improving the quality of it as well. Continue to encourage exercise to keep joints loose and weight at a healthy level. If your dog is losing weight, examine her teeth—perhaps eating has become painful due to gum or tooth disease.
Finding that balance between urging activity and respecting age can be difficult with both people and dogs, as author and psychologist Rob Pasick documents in his book, Conversations With My Old Dog. Rob’s beloved Yellow Labrador, Lucy, was 13 years old when she passed away–half blind due to glaucoma, hard of hearing and stiff at the hips. Yet her gentle spirit seemed to stay to the end, inspiring him to think about the nature of cross-species friendships, life and death.
This thoughtful and inspiring book makes a great addition to any dog lover’s library and a comforting gift to anyone who is facing the loss of a beloved pet. Conversations With My Old Dog can be purchased on this web site or at Amazon.com.