Caring for Our Senior Pets

Caring for the Older Dog

If your dog is seven years or older, he has entered his golden years. In middle and old age, metabolism slows, their digestive system has more difficulty absorbing nutrients and joints and muscles become weaker. Diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, renal failure, hypothyroidism, heart disease and various cancers are more common. The good news is that many diseases respond to treatment if detected early. Here are some simple steps to keep your senior dog healthy and happy.

Routine veterinary visits
Even if the dog seems fine, he should go to the vet at least twice a year. Remember that dogs age the equivalent of seven or more years for each calendar year. Your veterinarian will perform a comprehensive physical exam and listen to your dogs heart and lungs. He will check for signs of disease, especially conditions that occur commonly in older dogs. Your vet visit is also a great opportunity to ask questions.

Diagnostic Tests
When people reach middle age, there  are routine tests such as blood tests, cancer screening and evaluation of the heart that doctor’s recommend to maintain good health. Same goes for older dogs. The reason, in both dogs and humans is that some diseases are not visible during a physical examination, but can be detected in other ways. Tests recommended for dogs seven years or older are listed below.

Comprehensive Blood Panel :Each type of blood cells are counted and the chemical components of blood plasma is measured. This gives information about the health of the bone marrow, kidney, liver, pancreas and thyroid, and can help to detect infections.

Complete Urinalysis concentration and chemical constituents of the urine measured. Cells and other solids in the urine examined microscopically. The urinalysis provides information about the health of the kidneys and bladder, and is also useful in the diagnosis of diabetes.

Chest X-ray – radiographs allow visualization of the internal organs of the body. Chest x-rays are recommended to assess the state of the heart and lungs and to detect tumors.

Abdominal X-Rays –  X-ray of the abdomen is useful to detect tumors and to assess the state of the kidneys, bladder, intestines and spleen.

Electrocardiogram –  This test measures electrical impulses in the heart, using sensors placed on the skin. ECG is useful in detecting heart disease.

Vaccinations
As he did when he was younger, your dog will benefit from the protection of regular vaccination against infectious diseases. Your veterinarian will recommend a vaccine program tailored to your dogs age, lifestyle and health.

Nutrition
Healthy older dogs require a diet that is lower in calories, yet rich in important nutrients such as high-quality protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Special diets are available to address the more specific requirements in dogs with medical conditions. Your veterinarian is your best guide in choosing a diet that will keep your dogs tail wagging.

Musculoskeletal
Your dog may be slowing, but he needs exercise. Regular exercise can help keep him supple and prevent obesity. Remember to tell your veterinarian if your dog has pain when he stands up, walks or goes up and down stairs. Medications can be available to him more comfortable.

Dental
Keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy are essential to his well being. Dental disease is painful and can cause an infection in internal organs such as kidneys and heart. Your veterinarian should check your dogs teeth regularly. He’ll let you know when your dog needs a professional dental cleaning. Under general anesthesia, all of the plaque, tartar and bacteria are removed from the teeth. Once  your dog’s teeth are clean, it’s your job to keep them healthy. Brushing, dental diets and soft chew toys are very effective.

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