• ALWAYS CHECK WITH THE VETERINARIAN. When in doubt, check with a veterinarian. It is easy to go online and find sources, but if you think that the knowledge online is lacking, or you can’t understand it, then it’s time to go to the vet’s office.

• ASK FOR TIPS FROM YOUR VET. Do talk with your vet to find out what you should watch out for when it comes to your dog. Though regular visits can detect health issues early, you can also do your part by learning how to look out for symptoms. You can also ask for some doggy-diet advice and first aid pointers.

• FEED YOUR DOG A PROPER DIET. It’s easy to spoil your senior dogs, since they probably know exactly how to make themselves look cute to you. However, as dogs grow older, their bodies have a harder time digesting food properly. Monitor their weight and how they react to various kinds of food. If you want to feed them supplements, consult your vet.

• GIVE THEM EXERCISE AND KEEP AN EYE ON THEIR BODY WEIGHT. It’s not only good for the dog; it’s also good for you. Your senior dogs may not be able to run well anymore, but a good brisk walk— or a simple, relaxing walk, for that matter— will be a good way for them to get exercise while having quality time with you.

• BE AWARE OF YOUR OLD DOG’S HEALTH ISSUES. All older dogs have their own health issues. Provide them with toys, bedding, or even special feeding equipment if they need it. That way, they will have no difficulty getting around or even just resting. If your dog has arthritis, for example, you can have rugs to keep them warm, or use a special rug placement on your stairs so their footing can be secure.

This story appeared in Animal Scene’s July 2017 issue.