As your dog gets a little older and a little longer in tooth and claw, you will need to keep up a good communication with your vet so as to be able to give your dog the treatments and medicines he may need for the best level of health possible at his age.
You may find a more frequent health check would be useful. Annual check ups may not be enough when your dog is advancing in years and is succumbing to failures in health and condition. When you see the vet, discuss the diet you are giving your dog and consider adapting it to his changing needs. Perhaps he could do with some supplements of minerals or vitamins, or alternative therapies to give his immune system a boost to keep infection at bay and to keep his coat and skin in good condition. Your vet may also suggest one of the diets manufactured by companies who gear their products manufacture towards the alleviation or dietary treatment of specific conditions.
For example, older dogs may need diets appropriate for such conditions as arthritis or a weakness in the kidneys or liver, and can be prescribed medicines to supplement the diet. Arthritis, for example, can not only reduce your dog’s mobility and make him stiff in the joints but affect his mood and personality because of the relentless discomfort, so glucosamine and chondroitin are very useful additions to your dog’s daily diet to keep his joints well oiled and to keep him as pain free for as long as possible.
If your dog gets out of breath frequently after moderate exercise your vet may be able to give treatment to relieve any heart problems and make it easier for him to recover from exhaustion, although always ask about the side effects of any medication your vet prescribes so that you know what to do if your dog has any adverse reaction.
Medicine is not an exact science and occasionally dogs can have an allergy or intolerance to a drug, so careful monitoring of your dog when he is on medical treatment is extremely important. Whatever your vet prescribes, make sure that it is given strictly in accordance with instructions and do not under any circumstances vary the dose or give two doses if you forgot it the previous day.
Careful storage of animal medicines is very important if you have children around, or other pets, and you need to make sure that any medicines are kept out of reach, not put into a separate bottle so that the contents are not named, and not given inappropriately, for example by crushing tablets in food if they are meant to be given whole.