DOGS: Managing Senior Pet's Health
These suggestions will enable you to provide the best health care allowing your dog to live as long as possible.
► ANNUAL PHYSICAL EXAMINATION
A year between physical examinations for your dog is like 4 to 7 years between annual examinations for us. Once your older pet begins to show signs of age related illness, we recommend physical exams every six (6) months.
Feed the highest quality food you can afford. Premium pet food are formulated with less sodium and fat, and more fiber, than foods made for younger dogs. They are also more digestible and result in a healthier pet with less stool volume. Read labels carefully for sodium, fiber and fat content. Some brands of dog food marketed for older pets are not substantially different from regular pet foods. We can help you with this information.
• PRESCRIPTION DIETS
Many older animals require specific prescription diets to help manage problems such as heart and kidney disease. Prescription vitamin supplements help keep the skin and coat healthy and fatty acid supplement decrease chronic inflamation such as arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease. Ask us about supplements before you buy anything at the store!
Feed treats made for older dogs. Most dog food treats are loaded with salt and fat, which are harmful to older pets. Choose low salt biscuits. And remember to ask us about senior pet treats.
• DO NOT FEED table scraps and snacks. Geriatric animals are more likely to suffer digestive upsets from too much variety in their diets!
• PET FOOD RECALL INFORMATION: CLICK HERE This information is from USDA and the list kept updated. Plus we will tweet about any new recalls.
► INTERNAL PARASITES
These nasty lil' critters threaten your dog's health. Older animals are more vulnerable to these parasites. In large numbers they can cause intestinal blockage, bloody diarrhea and even death. Certain types can also affect you and your family. Microscopic examination of your pet's stool needs to be done on a regular basis. If you have any questions, ask us about this!
► FRESH, CLEAN WATER
Provide a constant supply of fresh, clean water. Increased thirst and water consumption is a very common symptom of several old-age diseases. Notify us right away if you notice any changes!
► KEEP YOUR PET UNDER CONTROL
Don't let it run loose. Purchase an ID tag to place on your pet's collar and kit it on at all times. It is your pet's "ticket home" if lost. Older animals with poor sight and hearing frequently become lost and disoriented. If your pet becomes lost, please check this Lost Pet Information.
► VACCINATIONS and BOOSTERS
Unfortunately there is no safe, effective drug available to combat any of the major viral diseases of dogs. Vaccination is the only effective form of protection. Vaccination enables your dog to fight infection by stimulating the immune system so it makes antibodies against the viruses.
Older pets have decreased resistance to disease, so keeping their boosters current is very important. To maintain this protection, dogs must be vaccinated regularly so the level of immunity is always high enough to prevent disease. However, some experts now believe that dogs over the age of 15 have been vaccinated so many times they may no longer need vaccines for some deseases. We may adjust our vaccine protocols when your pet becomes very elderly. And feel free to discuss this with us.
► HEARTWORM DISEASE
This is serious and deadly! It is carried by mosquitoes. An annual blood test is needed to check for these parasites and daily or monthly medication is given to prevent this disease.
► DENTAL CARE
This is just important for your pet as it is for you. The average lifespan of a dog that receives timely dental care is 10 to 20% longer than one that doesn't. Infected teeth and gums are very painful to your dog, and also spread infection to the kidneys, heart, liver and elsewhere. Dental cleanings are a necessary component of a long, happy life for your pet.
► PREVENT OBESITY
Extra pounds burden the heart, kidneys, joints and muscles, decreasing life expectancy 30 to 50%. Preventing obesity is the best way to prevent diabetes in pets, just as it is in people. Feed your pet only enough food to maintain a healthy weight, and ask us for advice on obtaining and maintaining that healthy weight. Increased water consumption/urination, accompanied by weight loss despite a good appetite, are the signs to watch for.
► GROOM AND TRIM NAILS AS NEEDED
Keep an eye out for fleas, dandruff, sores, or bald spots. Contact us if you notice any abnormalities. Tumors in or beneath the skin are very common in older pets. Many of these are benign, not cancerous, but early detection and removal of tumors is very important. A dry, dull haircoat is common in older pets. Vitamin supplements or special shampoos are often needed, so ask us what would be best for your pet.
► FLEA CONTROL
This is essential! Preventing fleas with regular use of effective flea products is much less costly than treating a full blown infestation of fleas in your home. DO NOT waste you money on over-the-counter flea products. Most do not work and some can even be harmful to your pet, especially if he or she has heart problems or is taking medication. Our products provide good control and we will take the time to individualize a flea program to suit your requirements and budget.
► NEVER GIVE HUMAN MEDICATIONS TO YOUR DOG WITHOUT CHECKING WITH US FIRST!
► REPORT ANY CHANGES OR PROBLEMS
It is extremely important that you report any changes or problems in your dog's health or behavior to us as soon as possible. Diseases or behavior problems usually are more successfully treated the earlier they are addressed. -- For your convenience we have provided a Check List for you at the bottom of this webpage.
► AS YOUR DOG AGES
Geriatric Workups help detect many of the problems caused by aging, such as: kidney, liver, heart, arthritis, and dental disease. Early detection can lengthen your pet's life. Proper treatment will improve your pet's quality of life.
If you pet's eyesight is impaired, avoid moving furniture or other familiar objects in the home unnecessarily. A dab of perfume or other scent on doorways, table legs, etc. will help even a blind pet to get around with little difficulty.
► KEEP YOU PET DRY AND WARM
Tolerance to both heat and cold decreases with age. Warmth also lessens symptoms of arthritis.
With lots of patience and love, both you and your pet will continue to share a happy and healthy life. Thank you for taking such good care of your aging pet.
If you notice different behavior in your dog, please download this handy check list to make notes, and take it with you on your next veterinary appointment.
Senior Care Checklist.KCVF.org.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [129.7 KB]