Taking care of a Senior Dog

Just as in humans, taking care of a senior dog means being aware of and recognizing potential health problems before they occur. Do you have problems with your senior dog and sometimes feel overwhelmed by your pet’s neediness? Older dogs have greater needs and they require more care than younger, more active dogs.

Some signs to look for that may indicate your dog is not feeling well or may need medical attention include the following:

Excessive Water Consumption
When a dog begins to drink excessive amounts of water, it’s usually an indication that something is wrong. Excessive water consumption can be an indicator of diabetes, adrenal hormone imbalance (Cushing’s disease), urinary tract infection, uterine infection, or side effects from medications.

Your dog should drink about one cup of water for every five pounds of body weight per day. Your dog may drink more water during very hot days, but by being aware of the amount of water your dog drinks on normal days, you’ll know if it’s consuming abnormally large amounts of waters on a continuous basis, which may be a symptom of a serious problem.

Lumps on Your Dog
While petting or stroking your dog, be conscious of any irregularities in or under the skin. If you feel a lump or cyst, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Lumps can be malignant, but the only way to know for sure will be for your vet to perform a biopsy or an aspiration of cells with a needle.

Breathing Problems
Coughing, wheezing or breathing problems could indicate that there is a cardiovascular or lung problem with a geriatric dog. Laryngeal Paralysis also causes breathing problems and definitely requires an exam by your vet at the first sign of hoarseness or very rapid breathing not caused by heat exhaustion or heavy exercise.

Lazy or Lethargic Older Dogs
All dogs experience a decrease in energy levels as they become older and older dogs tire more easily and take more naps than younger, more active dogs. But if you find your dog is sleeping excessively, has trouble getting up from a nap, or has restricted mobility, it may be suffering from an acute form of arthritis common among older dogs. Arthritis is painful but there are medications and alternative treatments available that can bring relief to your dog for these types of conditions. The best supplement I have found for my own dog who has arthritis is Winston’s Joint System, an all-natural formula developed by a Naturopathic Doctor to heal his own beloved dog.

Changes in Vision
As your dog gets older, it’s normal for it to develop a hazy, bluish appearance in its eyes. This usually doesn’t affect the dog’s eyesight, but if it develops a hazy, white filmy substance over its eyes, it could be the onset of cataracts that can eventually lead to blindness.

An older dog will go through a number of changes as it progressively ages and may be more vulnerable to diseases specific to older dogs. Most dogs are considered senior dogs when they reach the age of 7 or 8 years, although some giant breeds are considered senior dogs as early as the age of 5 due to their shorter life span.

Some of the most common aging symptoms include slower movement and reduced activity, gray hair (especially around the muzzle), joint pain, a decrease in appetite, and sometimes depression.

Diseases in Older Dogs
Some old-age diseases in dogs call for special care. The most common old age diseases affecting dogs are cancer, arthritis and hip dysplasia.

Cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in one area of the body and then spreads to other areas through the blood. Malignant tumors can be removed, but they may reoccur. If the cancer is advanced, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy may be necessary to save the dog’s life.

Arthritis and hip dysplasia are not curable diseases. Your dog may suffer from varying degrees of joint pain and the diseases may also prevent your dog from performing its normal activities. At the first sign of arthritis or hip dysplasia, I recommend you begin treating your pet with a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System.

Winston’s Joint System is a combination of three, totally-natural whole food supplements developed by a Naturopathic Doctor for his own dog. There are no drugs with their serious side-effects, and no dosage problems because the dog’s body uses only what it needs. Within the first 30 days of treatment, dogs on Winston’s Joint System show noticeable and often remarkable improvement.

Diets For Older Dogs
Taking care of a senior dog usually includes changing its diet to accommodate any health condition. Wet food is recommended for senior dogs, as it’s easier to digest and may reduce the risk of developing liver and kidney disease. As your dog becomes older, it becomes less active and you will need to cut down on the amount of calories to prevent obesity.

Some of the diseases that affect aging dogs may be preventable. Daily teeth brushing as well as a regular exercise program can maintain your dog’s health and lead to a longer life. Be sure your senior dog has routine check-ups at least once per year, even if it appears to be in great physical shape. Early detection of diseases, followed by proper treatment, can add years to a dog’s life.

I empathize with you if you”re having problems taking care of a senior dog; so do I. But one thing I will do for my loving companion is treat him as I would wish to be treated when I get that old. The love you receive in exchange might just add years to YOUR life too!


Why Older Dogs Need Expert Vet Care

Seeing that your aging dog receives regular expert vet care is vital in maintaining its good health. Regular checkups and preventive veterinary care can add years to the life of an older dog.

Many pet dogs are living longer lives due to early diagnosis of diseases and quicker treatments. Early intervention in a disease means the dog has a better chance of recovering and living a longer life. Most veterinary clinics and animal hospitals have special preventive care programs for older dogs. These programs may go under the moniker of “geriatric wellness programs,” or “senior care programs.” These exams usually include blood tests, urine tests, stool tests, and x-rays.

A dog’s health is partly determined by the health of its parents when conception occurred. The rest is up to the dog’s owner. A dog should have the necessary vaccinations, proper nutrition, good dental care, heartworm prevention, and other professional vet care during its life because all of these will have a direct bearing on a dog’s health as it ages. The healthier a dog is while growing up, the better its chances of being healthy as it grows older.

Appointments with a veterinarian usually include measuring the dog’s weight each visit. Any rapid or unexplained weight gain or weight loss is often the first sign of disease. Regular visits to the vet should be a part of every dog’s health care. It’s also very important to follow the vet’s recommendations on the proper feeding of older dogs. This helps ensure the dog is receiving the correct nutrition as it ages, and assists in preventing obesity which is one of the most common and preventable diseases in older dogs.

Older dogs should receive regular physical exams. How often these exams should be given depends a lot on the health of the dog; but older dogs, no matter their health status, should be examined by a vet at least once a year. Some older dogs who are diagnosed with health problems will need more visits with the veterinarian.

A physical assessment of the dog will include an examination of the mouth, teeth, gums, tongue, and throat. A rectal exam is also a part of the examination of an aging dog. The veterinarian will examine the inner pelvic area, the lining of the colon, check the dog’s lymph nodes, and the prostate in male dogs.

The physical exam will also include checking the dog’s skin and ears for ticks, fleas, or mites. Heartworm prevention is another important treatment for dogs of all ages but more so for aging dogs. Heartworm medications are available at all pet stores so it’s not difficult to prevent this disease.

If a dog shows any warning signs of heart, lung, kidney, or liver disease, X-rays will need to be taken. When a dog grows older and is still healthy, an X-ray of its chest and abdomen should be taken in case the dog later develops signs of disease. An X-ray taken when the dog was in good health can be compared to a new X-ray and will be valuable in diagnosing any symptoms the dog exhibits.

Owners of senior dogs should understand that the immune system of an older dog is not as strong as it was when the dog was younger, so it’s imperative that an aging dog be kept up-to-date on its vaccinations.

The problem of trying to control an animal’s pain must be handled by the vet. There are medications available that can help relieve pain in older dogs and make their lives a little more comfortable.

Older dogs need expert vet care to help prevent disease and to diagnose any health problems that can be treated and cured with the proper care. A veterinarian is the best partner a dog owner can have for keeping their dog healthy and making its senior years pleasurable.