The Siberian husky hails from the cold Siberian Arctic where lots of physical activity is required to stay warm. As a result, he has inherited traits of a strong, playful companion. When he becomes elderly and slow, he needs your care to help him maintain a quality life.
Ask your veterinarian to begin screening your Siberian for elderly diseases when he is 7 years old. His life expectancy ranges between 10 and 14 years, and his breed is genetically prone to hypertension, liver disease, hypothyroidism and arthritis, among other conditions. Just like humans, early detection can help get your dog started on a treatment regime that may lessen his discomfort and reduce the chances of other conditions developing due to a lack of medical care.
Adjust his diet to address the needs of his elderly digestive system. It will be easier for him to digest a premium, low-protein dog food formulated for elderly dogs. If constipation is a problem, try adding three teaspoons of bran to his food. In addition, fresh water is important for digestion as well, so be certain he always has a good supply.
Brush his teeth once each week with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste. An elderly dog often has sensitive teeth, and this causes him to reduce the vigor with which he chews his food. This results in excess plaque that can lead to tooth loss. If he can't tolerate a toothbrush, try wrapping surgical gauze around your finger, moisten with water and add dog toothpaste. Gently swab his teeth and gums.
Take your Siberian for short daily walks to help keep his joints healthy. Although your younger Siberian loved to run and had enough strength to pull a sled, keep in mind that he may not be as quick on his paws as he used to be. Also, be sure to help your old friend by avoiding steep hills and staircases.
Give your Siberian a soft, supportive place to rest his bones. A thick dog bed will help keep him from getting sore as he sleeps. If you can afford it, consider purchasing an orthopedic dog bed made of memory foam. Also, consider adding a heating pad or cooling mat to soothe his body.
Monitor his behavior for signals that he is too cold or too hot, such as shivering or excessively panting. Although his breed has adapted well to warmer climates, like all elderly dogs, he may develop difficulty coping with temperature changes. Remember, a Siberian has a double coat of fur for warmth against the arctic cold, and playing outside on a hot day can be miserable during his senior years. Keep him in a temperature controlled environment for his safety and comfort.
- Ask your veterinarian about adding vitamin supplements for added protection against disease.
- His behavior is the best indicator of how much exercise is too much. If he seems to enjoy extra activity without showing signs of physical stress, let him enjoy himself.
- Siberian huskies are predisposed to hip dysplasia. If you notice he is staggering while he walks, see a veterinarian immediately.
- Cataracts are common in this breed. Make certain your veterinarian includes an eye examination during a physical.
- Tooth sensitivity may indicate the presence of periodontal diseases. Ask your veterinarian to perform a dental exam.
- Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.
Yvonne Ward began her professional writing career in 2004. She wrote a true-crime book published in 2010 and has two more underway. She also has a strong background in business, education and farm living. Ward is pursuing a Master of Arts in history and culture from Union Institute and University.