Tips for Lowering Senior Dog Health Care Costs

Senior dog health is one of the most important things to take care of as a pet owner, but sometimes it can get a bit expensive. You can keep costs under control by practicing a little proactive health care and setting some money aside for those unplanned medical emergencies.

Prevention Less Costly Than Cure

It’s often less expensive to prevent a health problem in your pet than it is to try to fix it after the fact. Help your older dog stay healthy by ensuring he receives regular exercise (as he is able) and that he eats a quality dog food. Consider serving him two or three smaller meals during the day, rather than the one large meal he may have eaten as a younger dog.

Limit the number of between-meal treats your pet consumes to help keep him at an optimum weight, and discuss fiber supplements with your veterinarian if your dog has frequent bouts of constipation.

Add Comfort to Your Pet’s Routine

Make mealtime more comfortable for your pet as he ages. If he has problems bending over to eat out of his bowl, build or buy a special feeding table that elevates his bowl to an easier-to-reach location. Be sure to offer plenty of clean, fresh water for your pet to drink, and notice how much he consumes on a normal day.

If you live in a four-season climate, buy your pet a sweater or coat for cooler weather, and purchase a quality orthopedic pet bed for year-round use. Take precautions to keep your dog cool in warmer weather, too, such as placing a fan near his bed, to help him feel more comfortable throughout the year.

Discuss Geriatric Conditions with Your Veterinarian

Some diseases and conditions are common to older dogs. These include diabetes, arthritis, obesity and dental disease. The last two are particularly manageable by owners and veterinarians who work together to set up weight-control and dental care programs, and the other two can also be controlled successfully by a coordinated effort between you and your veterinarian.

Depending on his overall health, your dog may need to visit the veterinarian twice a year for proper preventive care. Alert your veterinarian to any changes in your dog’s behavior, appetite or appearance, even if you’ve just been to the clinic for a checkup. Even urgent medical problems can be handled in a cost-effective manner if they are not allowed to develop into full-blown medical emergencies.

Indications of a Serious Health Problem

In addition to the normal signs of aging, some clinical signs require veterinary attention for your older dog. If your pet shows any of these signs, contact your veterinarian’s office for an evaluation immediately. These signs should not be ignored because they indicate a possible life-threatening problem for your dog.

  • Appetite loss
  • Bleeding mouth or gums
  • Hair loss
  • Head tilt
  • Increased or decreased urine output
  • Increased or decreased water consumption
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of hearing
  • Loss of vision
  • Signs of confusion or dementia
  • Sudden, unexplained pain
  • Uncontrollable itching
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Weight loss

By knowing what's normal for your pet and by helping him be as active and fit as he can, you're helping your older dog enjoy his senior years to their fullest.