Don’t despair as your dog’s muzzle gets greyer; you are still his companion, server, nurse, playmate, nail technician, personal trainer, and social media manager. Just the opposite, being a pet parent is an ongoing process. Here are six ways to be your dog’s hero.

Your dog ageing can cause you to feel inadequate as a pet parent, according to Dr. Julie Buzby, an integrative veterinarian and founder of Dr. Buzby’s ToeGrips®. She gives you six tips to help you stay a major hero to your dog. Allow yourself some grace, she says.

Senior dog care can be difficult.

Your closest friends and family probably don’t realize the sacrifices you make day after day to provide your faithful friend with the love, support, and care he needs.

It may be difficult to comprehend as you and your dog experience the roller coaster of ups and downs, that despite your greatest efforts, you’re somehow failing your dog.

I haven’t met a single client who said ‘I feel like a failure’ in my 20 years of practice. However, I’ve spoken to many dog owners who were crying as they revealed (sometimes sobbing) that they felt they weren’t doing enough to alleviate their dog’s pain, suffering, or deterioration. At times, they believed, ‘My dog is failing, so I must be as well.’

It is true that as our dogs get older, life writes its own narrative for us, one that we have no control over. However, I believe that by being by your dog’s side, you are his greatest hero.

Your dog’s muzzle may become greyer as time passes, but please don’t think that you’re failing as a pet parent. You are your dog’s companion, server, nurse, playmate, nail technician, personal trainer, and social media manager, among other things. Here are six ways you can be your dog’s hero, in addition to the fact that you already are.

Be a hero to your senior dog by following these six tips.

Do lots of research and ask questions.

Like many of my veterinary clients, Jack was frantic. His dog had just been diagnosed with a tumor, and he wanted answers.

Jack asked me what my dog and he could look forward to in the coming weeks, thanks to modern technology, I was being interviewed on his radio show.

All night long, he frantically searched Dr. Google for information after his dog was diagnosed with anemia. Unfortunately, his frantic late-night searches only served to increase his concerns.

This is extremely common.

It’s important to note that online searches without the assistance of a veterinary specialist will most likely result in more distress and fear than assistance. Furthermore, after you receive a diagnosis in the office, reading online information can be exceptionally beneficial and reassuring. That’s why I write this blog!

Veterinarians should be the ones answering questions about their clients’ pets online, not the clients themselves, according to Dr. Janet Scarlett.

Don’t waste time searching online for answers about your dog’s health; first, see your veterinarian. Only then should you seek information from trusted experts and continue to ask questions about your dog’s care.

Save for a worst case.

It is difficult to talk about this subject during periods of economic uncertainty, but now more than ever it is important to note that veterinary care can become very costly suddenly and unexpectedly.

Consider these situations:

It is possible to avoid having insufficient finances to care for your dog through pet insurance or a simple savings account if you don’t know what life holds for you and your pet in the days to come.

A client recently brought her 19-year-old dog to me for a second opinion because the dog had recently stopped eating well. The moment I looked at the dog’s mouth, I exclaimed, “This dog’s mouth is so painful. No wonder she hasn’t been eating,” in disbelief.

I suggested that the dog’s problem be treated by a board-certified veterinary dentist who worked with a board-certified veterinary anesthesiologist so that the dog’s oral surgery and difficult anesthetics for geriatric patients could be administered with the best care.

The owner was happy to pay for the surgery, which was costly, because it offered hope for a better quality of life and appetite for whatever time her beloved dog had left, because she had regularly set aside money for his medical emergencies.

Be certain to value the veterinarian-patient-client connection.

Having a close relationship with your dog’s veterinarian is one of the best ways to be a hero to your dog.

A strong connection with your veterinarian is invaluable as your dog passes through the five critical stages of his life.

People occasionally write to me and describe a less-than-trustworthy relationship with their veterinarian. It should not be that way.

Your vet should be considered an important element of your dog’s family. You should have complete faith in your vet’s desire to care for your dog’s health and well-being. If you agree, you’ll have confidence in his or her strategy. If you don’t have that level of trust, please seek out another vet.

My goal as a veterinarian is to ensure that my patients trust me and our veterinary-client-patient relationship. Veterinarians are relied upon to maintain a trusting relationship with their patients. To learn more about veterinary telemedicine (VT), read my recent post on the subject.

Your dog’s healthcare team should be expanded.

My sensitive gum tissue required oral surgery recently.

My dentist informed me that there are local dentists who perform this procedure, but that they have all been trained by a specialist in Atlanta. He is considered the world’s leading expert in this procedure. That is why I drove five hours to have it done.

“Sure,” I replied. “Give me a recommendation, and I will go to Atlanta. My dentist looked at me like I had two heads. It was a no-brainer for me. I want the individual who has performed the operation so many times he could do it in his sleep.”

Veterinary care, like all professional services, requires a specialized focus. Your dog’s primary vet is your best ally, but there are times when seeing a specialist is the best choice. The specialist is defined by a specific veterinary discipline.

It surprises me that so many of my clients now prefer to keep things local, but I always suggest seeing a board-certified specialist for a second opinion, a difficult diagnosis, or orthopedic surgery.

It may not always be possible, based on your location, your dog’s ability to travel, and your finances, to see a specialist and expand your dog’s healthcare team, but you should talk to your veterinarian about other qualified professionals who could be valuable members.

You should plan for the future.

Being intimidated when we established our firm Dr. Buzby’s ToeGrips® in 2012, I was concerned. There was a huge monetary risk in taking a notion and putting it on the market. I’m a veterinarian, for crying out loud, what would I know about beginning a company?

Beth was such a strong believer in my dream that she was willing to fund it. I refused her offers several times, but she was determined to have her way and she had the resources to do so.

A shopping bag was hanging on my door handle when I got home from church. I peered inside and laughed out loud. $10,000 in cash, consisting of $20 bills, was inside. Beth had obviously left it for me.

Beth died a few years later, and her two dogs were left without any arrangements or provisions. Her family considered taking one of the dogs to the pound and putting down the other one, but her friends and I intervened and arranged for a private adoption.

Prior to the occurrence of a unforeseen event in your life, assure that your dog will be cared for by discussing the issue with your family and your lawyer.

Be proactive and take precautions.

You can care for your dog until the end by keeping them safe proactively. You can do this in a variety of ways.

Our dogs are innocent, sweet creatures who often follow their nose, curiosity, and instincts straight into trouble. Be aware of dangers, perils, and poisons you need to keep away from your dog:

You will be completely at ease.

You will come to regard your dog as your hero—your steadfast and faithful friend who is there for you in sickness and health, for better or for worse—over the course of your dog’s life.

However, I believe that you are also your dog’s hero— making quiet sacrifices, giving loving care throughout the day and night, and never giving up.

Stroke your dog’s sweet face with complete peace of mind that you have been his hero right to the very end.