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10 Tips For Caring For Your Senior Dog

10 Tips For Caring For Your Senior Dog

When your dog gets older and is considered a senior, they need special care. It is up to you to properly care for your senior dog to help prolong his life. The age that a dog becomes a senior depends on their size. For example, a large dog like a Great Dane would be considered a senior at around age 7, while a Chihuahua would be considered middle aged at age 7.

1. Schedule Annual Exams With the Vet

If you normally only take your dog to the vet if he is sick or just every few years, that needs to change when he is a senior. When your dog gets older, he is more susceptible to disease. Often times, these diseases are hidden. It is important that you start taking your senior dog to the vet every year just in case he has any hidden conditions. At the visit, the vet will also give your dog a body evaluation. This is where you will find out if your dog is overweight or underweight. Either condition can be dangerous for a senior dog.

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2. Control Your Dog’s Weight

As your dog gets older, he will start becoming less active. If you continue to feed him the same amount of food and he isn’t as active, he risks becoming overweight. Overweight dogs have a greater risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and skin disease. It is a good idea to discuss your senior dog’s nutritional needs with your vet to make sure that you are feeding you dog enough, but not too much.

3. Fatty Acids, DHA, and EPA are Important

As your dog gets older, he is prone to developing joint issues, mobility issues, and arthritis. In order to keep your senior dog moving like he did when he was a puppy, you should start feeding him foods rich in fatty acids, DHA, and EPA. You should give your dog’s joints added protection by giving him chondroitin and glucosamine supplements.

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4. Take Care of Your Senior Dog’s Mouth

It is a good idea to take care of your dog’s teeth from the time they are a puppy. However, you need to start taking extra care of your dog’s teeth when he gets older. Brushing your dog’s teeth is the best option. If your dog won’t let you brush his teeth, you can give him dental treats that will remove the tartar from his teeth and freshen his breath.

5. Do Routine Checks on Your Senior Dog

Because your senior dog will be moving more slowly, it is easier for a tick to jump on him and start feeding. This can be dangerous if the tick is carrying Lyme disease. If your senior dog contracts this disease, it can result in a variety of health complications. You should also do regular checks for ear mites. Ear mites in dogs can be very uncomfortable. It is important that you pay attention to your senior dog’s condition.

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6. Engage Your Dog in Exercise

Your senior dog may not be able to run around the block or chase rabbits through the yard the way he did when he was young, but he still needs exercise. The amount of exercise that he needs depends on his size. For a Great Dane, a walk around the block once a day is enough to keep him healthy and mobile. For a tiny Chihuahua, however, a walk around the block will be too much. Smaller dogs need less exercise, but all senior dogs need to walk and stay mobile.

7. Give Your Senior Dog Toys

Just because your dog won’t be able to fetch a ball or a stick when he gets older, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t still want to play. His body may be old but his mind is still as sharp as a tack. You should get your dog puzzle toys that don’t require a great deal of physical activity, but they are still fun.

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8. Give Him a Comfortable Bed

If your senior dog suffers from arthritis, you should make sure that he has an extra soft bed to sleep on. If he is sore, a soft bed will help him feel better. When he sleeps at night, he will be less likely to wake up feeling sore if he has a soft bed. Be sure to ask Amazon or Snapdeal customer service and double check the kind of bed you are getting. You can likewise for their advice if you don’t know what to get.

9. Modify Your Home

If you have a few stairs in your home that your dog cannot avoid, you may need to add a ramp to make it easier for him to get up and down. Arthritis can make walking very difficult. Also, you can put carpeting on hard floors that your dog walks on the most. It can help him gain his footing and it will make getting around easier.

10. Give Him Extra Love

Your senior dog may not feel great every day, so he will need extra love and attention. It is a good idea to spend more time with him just cuddling up on the couch watching television. It could actually be good for both of you.

Caring for your senior dog is different than when you were caring for him when he was younger. When you properly care for your senior dog, he will feel better and he will be healthier.

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Junie Rutkevich

Lifestyle writer and author of "Healthy Eating Habits: A Get-Healthy Guide To Tweak And Balance Your Daily Diet"

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Last Updated on November 9, 2020

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

2. No Motivation

Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

5. Upward Comparisons

Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

6. No Alternative

This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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7. Stress

As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

8. Sense of Failure

People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

9. The Need to Be All-New

People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

10. Force of Habit

Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

Final Thoughts

These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

More on Breaking Bad Habits

Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
[2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
[3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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