Older dogs face various problems and ailments in their twilight years, but with the right knowledge you can keep them fit and happy in their later life. Dogs live longer now than in previous years. This is due to better vaccinations, more nutritious food and all round good dog health care.
Gentle exercise and special vitamins are important to older dogs. Natural products, that produce no nasty side effects, for aging limbs and arthritis are worth investigating, and careful consideration of healthy treats to prevent older dogs from becoming overweight and unable to move around without discomfort.
Just how much our dogs show their age depends on many factors. Dark colored dogs for instance will begin to go grey when they age but with lighter colored dogs the greying will not be as noticeable.
Older dogs don't necessarily suffer from more illnesses but you do need to be aware of the changes in their bodies and be prepared to treat any diseases quickly as older dogs don't recover as easily as they did when they were young.
The body systems of older dogs don't regenerate at the same rate and the immune system becomes less effective but with the right care and attention there is no reason why our dogs can't live out their twilight years in comfort and happiness.
Some changes in older dogs cannot be avoided. Their hearing and vision can become impaired, joints and muscles can ache preventing the dog from getting around as nimbly as before. They will probably need less exercise. Where they were eager to chase a ball or frisby, a sedate walk may now be sufficient.
Older dogs struggle to cope with any kind of stress. Changes in routine or diet can contribute to this as well as illness and neglect. If there are young children in the house help them to understand that now your dog needs some peace and quiet in his later life and he's not quite up to the natural exhuberance of your lively kids.
Older dogs need to be kept inside where it's warm at night and not left outside to face the elements. Orthopedic beds for older dogs can be a great help. Not only do they relieve the discomfort of arthritis, but they also give support to the joints, and help the dog rest peacefully.
In older dogs the efficiency of the lungs decreases causing less oxygen to enter the body. Oxygen is essential for the renewal of body cells so older dogs can be more likely to develop infections in the respiratory system.
Problems with the digestive system of older dogs are common. Decaying teeth can prevent the food from being processed properly before it enters the digestive system. Infections in the mouth can cause a build up of toxins elsewhere resulting in diarrhoea and vomiting. Don't change your dog's diet suddenly, consult your vet for the ideal food and any supplements needed for older dogs.
As well as greying hair, an older dog's coat can become dull and sparse. This again will depend on the breed of dog and the length and thickness of his coat. The skin may become drier, thinner and less flexible as the dog's hormones change. Any unusual lumps or blemishes should be checked out by a vet. Any wounds should be treated carefully to prevent infections that can easily occur in older dogs.
All dog's senses will diminish as they age. The ability to smell, taste, hear and see can all be affected. Sometimes these changes can be gradual but it's important to be aware of these changes as early diagnosis can prolong your dog's ability to have a good quality of life into old age.
Cataracts are common in older dogs, the lense of the eye becomes cloudy impairing vision. Many older dogs become completely deaf, but still have a good appetite for life. Regular check ups by your veterinarian can keep a look out for these ailments that can occur at this time in their life.
Preserving your dog's dental health is a crucial part of caring for your pet. Calculus is the brown build-up of plaque found extending downwards on the tooth from the gum line. Calculus is a place where bacteria breed which inturn can have serious consequences for your dog's general health. These bacteria can not only cause abscesses and tooth loss but can have further more serious effects, even leading to organ damage as the bacteria are carried from the mouth through the bloodstream.
Dogs use their teeth more than humans do, after all they have no hands. Naturally, therefore, maintaining canine dental health is essential to their well-being.
More than half of all pets suffer from gum disease and dental problems of some kind. Vets estimate that by the age of three, 80% of dogs develop symptoms of oral disease.
The best thing you can do for your dog's dental health is to start a prevention program and take care of your pet's teeth and gums before it's too late.
Regular inspection of the teeth is also a good idea to establish the needs of your dog to keep his teeth and gums healthy. Normal healthy teeth in dogs are shiny white right down to the line of the gum. Any deposits or build up of a dark yellow or brown substance on the teeth, especially near the gum line, indicates a problem with calculus.
Chewing on hard food usually cleans the teeth of calculus, particularly the tips of the teeth. Even so, be aware that the gum line is slightly indented and can harbor the calculus-causing bacteria for months on end without being affected by your pet's eating. The gums should appear a healthy pink color and there should be a clear delineation between gums and teeth.
Additionally, natural and herbal ingredients can be very beneficial in promoting general dental health in dogs, including Silica and Calc. fluoride. While Silica is naturally occurring in the body and is also often prescribed for gum health, Calc. fluoride is found in the enamel of teeth and bone surfaces and is excellent for maintaining the health and integrity of teeth.
OralHealth Mouth Spray Promotes oral health while addressing dog and cat breath
Symptoms to look for; Fluctuations in weight and/or decreased appetite.
The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones which have a number of procedures to deal with in the body including maintaining your dog's metabolic rate. Improper operation of the thyroid gland may have an impact on a range of other body functions like digestion, body weight, heart rate, reproductive functioning, energy levels and even skin and coat health.
Maintaining balance of thyroid hormones and of the pituitary gland which regulates them is therefore crucial for the total systemic health of your dog.
From a holistic approach, it stands to sense that regular exercise and a balanced diet are two of the most important issues in maintaining systemic as well as thyroid health. Iodine is a mineral that is essential to the functioning of the thyroid gland and it is therefore important that your dog's diet include iodine or an iodine supplement, which can also be found in kelp extracts.
Apart from the beneficial effect on thyroid functioning, kelp is also used as a metabolic tonic to avoid excess weight.
Thyro-Pet Maintains a healthy thyroid gland in dogs.
Certain herbs are also known to support the health of the thyroid. As animals react well to supplementation with herbal remedies, these can also play an important role in supporting your pet's thyroid functioning.
Kidney or Bladder Problems, a Common Issue with Older Dogs
Symptoms to watch for: An increase in urination and "accidents", weight loss, and/or decreased appetite.
The kidneys have a number of vital functions. These include excretion, fluid conservation, and endocrine operations. The kidneys filter waste products from the bloodstream, so that they may be excreted from the body in the urine.
They kidneys behave as natural filters of the body, separating out nutrients from ingested food and liquids and leaving waste to be eliminated. Animals cannot operate the right way if their systems are not clean of toxins. The kidneys also produce hormones, including erythropoietin, which stimulates the bone marrow to produce new red blood cells.
There are a number of things that we can do for our dogs to extend the healthy functioning of the kidneys.
Make sure that your pet always has access to fresh, clean water. Make certain that dogs have the chance to urinate frequently so that they do not have to hold the urine in for unnecessarily long periods of time which will put pressure on their bladder.
Feed your dog a natural diet low in salt, phosphorous and relatively low in protein. As your dog gets older, regular check ups at the vet are advised so that progress of the kidneys can be monitored. Our pets are exposed to a variety of toxins that are particularly harmful to the kidneys.
Kidney Support Supports healthy dog kidneys and urinary tract health
Many herbs incorporate properties to support kidney health, such as Burdock, which is widely known as a systemic cleanser and blood purifier. It is also has the ability to maintain balance in body fluid levels and can help the kidneys to maintain their natural action of flushing out toxins, and while helping to maintain blood sugar levels within the normal range.
Preventative care is important so think about further protection for your dog in the form of pet health insurance. Take your dog to the vet for annual medical examinations and observe your dog carefully at home for physical and behavioral changes. This way you can stay on top of most health conditions. Get to know more about your breed of dog and any specific genetic conditions you need to be aware of.
If your dog displays any of the following symptoms, consult a veterinarian:
Vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal discharge from the nose, eyes or other body openings, uncontrolled accidents, unusual behavior such as aggressiveness or extreme lethargy, or respiration changes. Some symptoms that resemble normal aging may be suggestive of a more serious health condition.
Dogs are incredible animals and will learn to live with most disabilities as they grow older. Surely the least we owe them is a little help and understanding as they grow old, just as we surely will one day.
Natural remedies can be a great help to your ageing dog. They can be a gentle solution with no side effects that can help your dog in his advancing years. Consult your vet for advice before administering any new medication, natural or otherwise.