Thursday, March 11, 2010

Senior Wellness Revisited

Previously I wrote about senior wellness screening that your vet may want to perform on your pet. Today we are going to revisit senior wellness but from a "what can I dog at home?" perspective.

1. Lump and Bump check: Once a month feel all over your dog, checking for new lumps that may be under or on the skin. Many of these may be benign age related changes but only a quick needle biopsy can tell for sure. Also check for lumps under the chin, armpits, groin and behind the knees (back legs). These are places were lymph nodes are and enlarged lymph nodes are also something that needs to be checked out right away.

2. Dental care: If you are able it’s best to brush your dog’s teeth. If you can’t then at least try to take a quick look in the mouth and look for obvious signs of disease-heavy tartar, red or bleeding gums, irregular gum tissue or tumors.

3. Diet: Feed your older dog an appropriate diet. Your vet may prescribe a prescription diet if you pet has certain diseases like kidney failure, heart failure, or diabetes. But even if they don’t have a specific condition older pets have different metabolic needs and will need a quality senior diet.

4. Exercise: Just because your dog is older and less active doesn’t mean he should become a couch potato. Light exercise is still good to keep the muscles strong and joints loose. Go for shorter walks if needed or don’t throw the ball as far or as much but still let them exercise. Keeping your older dog lean will lessen the problems he or she may have with arthritis as well.

5. Weight: Monitor and write down your pet’s weight every month or so. When we see our pet every day it’s harder to notice a gradual weight loss or gain. But both of these changes, especially weight loss can indicate a serious problem that needs to be addresses.

6. Supplements: Two supplements that I think are great for any older dog are Glucosamine/Chondroitin and Fish oil (fatty acids). Glucosamine/chondroitin help slow down the process of arthritis as well as reduce some of the discomfort. My favorite brand is Cosequin or Dasuquin-both from Nutramax laboratories. Since nutracueticals are not regulated many of them don’t contain what they claim they do and may not be bioavailable to dogs. These two supplements are proven to be reputable. Fish oils are anti-inflammatory and are useful for many conditions such as arthritis, heart, kidney, and skin disease.

7. Eating and drinking habits: Keep an eye on your dog's eating and drinking habits. Decreases in eating can be caused by a variety of problems . Unexpected weight loss or gain in relation to appetite are also cause for concern. For example weight loss with good appetite or weight gain with normal to decreased appetite are not normal. Watching the food intake and the weight will help you notice these things. Increased water consumption is also a sign of several age related diseases that need to be further investigated.

7 comments:

Ricky the Sheltie said...

Thank you for all the great information in this post! We really appreciate it!

Sarah said...

thanks for the great info as usual!

i just started my guys on cosequin, they had been on recovery for the past 4 years, so we'll see how it does!

Sue said...

Lots of good advice.

Sam said...

This is very good advice. I've already started doing a lot of this with my younger dog, and my cat, who is getting up there in age.

Blue said...

This is great advice! Thank you for posting!

Got Syzygy said...

Thank you! Kruz will be 12 on March 19th and he's still doing great!! Looking forward to as much time as possible together!! I found a neat passage in a book I just finished. I thought it would be a great topic for an upcoming post. From The Tawny Man Series - An old Wolf talking to his human companion - "Do not treat me as I am already dead, or dying. If you see me that way, then I would rather truly be dead. You steal the now of my life away, when you constantly fear that tomorrow will bring my death. Your fears clutch cold at me and snatch all my pleasure in the day's warmth from me."

Sara said...

Great information. I just switched both dogs to Dasuquin, and they've been taking salmon oil for years. So, I was glad to hear I was doing something right! LOL.