Home Health Checklist
If your older dog could only verbally speak to you with more than a "ruff" about his changing health needs, taking care of him would be a cinch. Instead, your constant alertness and responsiveness to his health during his golden years is more important than ever.
Keep a health journal
Keeping a journal of symptoms or behavior changes can help you provide your vet with comprehensive and consistent information that will help in the effective diagnosis and treatment of your dog.
Here's a checklist of some common symptoms that arise in aging dogs:
Loss of appetite
Diarrhea or loose stool
Difficult or painful urination
Blood in urine
Blood in stool
Shaking or shivering
Restlessness and pacing
Labored breathing/breathing problems
When tracking your dog's health in a journal, remember to mark down the date you began noticing a symptom in order to inform your vet of how long it has been present. Whatever you do, don't simply chalk up your dog's symptoms to old age. These symptoms might actually be treatable and therefore, the quality of your dog's life could improve.
Move to twice-yearly checkups
Of course, it's important to take your older dog for regular checkups - once every six months is recommended after seven years of age - in order to keep track of emerging symptoms. Share your journal with your vet; once they perform a physical exam and take appropriate tests, ask your vet to help you develop a plan for monitoring your dog's condition, in response to the diagnosis and treatment.
Record these new results in your journal as well, for easy and consistent follow-up on subsequent visits.
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