As your dog gets older, its body will begin to change. In particular, your dog will become more susceptible to a range of health problems. This is why senior dogs require attentive care, extending all the way to their diets, which we are exploring today in this blog.
When is a dog considered ‘senior’?
Whether or not your dog is considered senior depends on a number of factors:
- Breed. Generally, smaller dogs tend to have a longer lifespan than bigger dogs.
- Lifestyle. A dog that is unhealthy and overweight will also age faster than one that gets plenty of exercise and good food.
Generally speaking, depending on the breed and size of your dog, dogs can start to be considered senior from anywhere between 5-9 years old. However, the only surefire way to know whether your dog is senior and needs senior care is by regularly visiting your local vet for checkups.
Dogs with gastrointestinal problems
If your dog is suffering from gastrointestinal issues – such as constipation or diarrhoea – then you should:
- Ensure you aren’t feeding your dog fatty foods or bones, as these items are generally not digested well
- Try and avoid treats
- Invest in fibre-rich food/additives (this helps both constipation and diarrhoea).
Dogs with dental issues
Steer clear of buying canned food for your senior dog, as it is sticky. The stickiness of the food means it can become lodged on or in between your dog’s teeth, which encourages the growth of plaque and tartar. Instead, purchase dry kibble that is suitable for senior dogs. The kibble scrapes against tartar and plaque and helps to remove it.
Dogs with kidney or heart disease
Does your dog have a form of kidney or heart disease? If so, you should avoid buying foods with excess salt and protein. Although there is no proof to suggest that doing so will prevent the disease altogether, avoiding these things will help ease the painful effects of the disease. Ensure your dog is also getting plenty of water.
As dogs age, their metabolism slows – not unlike humans. Slower metabolism means that it is easier for your dog to put on weight, and obesity can lead to a range of other health issues for your dog. The main things you should not be buying for your dog are treats and bones.
To combat your senior dog’s obesity, you should consult your local Bulleen vet, Vets on Parker. We offer a range of pet services, including weight management plans, dental care and surgery. Get in touch with a friendly Bulleen vet today on (03) 9850 1355.
Winter is here!
Here are some handy tips on preparing your pets for another chilly Melbourne winter:
• Remember that even though your pet has a fur coat, they still feel the cold.
• Ensure your pet has a thick, insulated bed for chilly nights. If you’re unsure whether their bed is warm enough why not add a nice fuzzy blanket?
• For rabbits and guinea pigs, add some extra straw to their hutch and give them a protected box to make their bed in. Place a blanket or waterproof tarp over outdoor runs to help keep the weather out.
• Birds feel the cold too. Bring birds in cages inside or place them somewhere sheltered out of the wind and weather. A blanket can be placed over the cage at night to help keep the warmth in.
• If your pet is outside, ensure they have an area they that is out of the wind and protected from the rain with a dry clean floor. Providing access to food, water and a bed in this area is ideal.
• Dog kennels should always be placed against a fence or undercover to give them extra protection from the wind and rain.
• Warm up your pet’s meals. We all love a warm meal on a cold night so why shouldn’t our pets enjoy it too?
• Pet coats. There is a huge range of warm and stylish pet coats on the market. These are great for short haired dogs and older pets who struggle to insulate themselves from the cold.
• Remember that young animals can’t control their body temperatures the same way adult animals do, so you’ll need to keep them inside in cold weather.
• Older pets with arthritis often have flare ups in colder weather. Speak to us about natural supplements and dietary tweaks that can help keep them moving comfortably.
The warmer months provide a great opportunity for us to get out into the sunshine with our pets! With the heat comes a few potential dangers – here are some of the more common things to be mindful of over the summer months:
Heatstroke is a common problem seen in both dogs and cats during summer and is very serious. A few simple tips can go a long way to help prevent it:
Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car. Temperatures in a car can rise to dangerous levels and can rapidly reach more than double the outside temperature even on mild days. Tinting, parking in the shade, or leaving the windows open do not help to reduce the inside temperature significantly.
If you find your dog panting heavily, doesn’t obey normal commands, has warm, dry skin and a rapid heart beat, he may be suffering from heatstroke. Other signs include vomiting, anxiety and high fever. Try to cool them off with cool water, cold packs and a cooler environment; and of course see a vet as soon as possible.
Avoid walking or exercising your dog at the park in the middle of the day. Apart from the outside air termperature, another good test for this is to take a few steps on the footath in your bare feet – if it’s too hot for you, it is too hot for them!
Senior pets and arthritic animals sometimes can’t get themselves out of their hot kennel. Kennels should always be kept in a shaded area with plenty of airflow around it.
Keep them cool – keep inside if possible, frozen pet treats, ice blocks, paddling pools are all great ideas on those really hot days.
Is your four-legged friend a Pug, Bull dog, Mastiff, or Chow Chow? Dogs with short muzzles like the breeds just mentioned are even more susceptible to over heating, so as their owners, you need to be even more careful.
We love to see senior pets! Dogs and cats age seven times faster than humans, so it is vitally important that your senior pet has an annual or twice annual health check.
Health checks in senior pets often identify health problems that owners simply aren’t aware of. For example, we often see untreated dental problems where owners are often mistaken by their pet’s ability to still eat well. Usually, the pet has just learnt to tolerate this painful situation.
Annual blood testing for pets over ten years old is also an excellent way of detecting disease. Animals with diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease and even tumours often do not show signs of the disease until they are very sick. So screenings for diabetes, kidney disease and liver problems are important. Blood can be taken without sedation and test results are received very quickly.
We also often see arthritis in senior cats and dogs. This is a painful disease, but fortunately it’s one that can be easily managed with medication. If your pet has symptoms of slowing down on walks, stiffness after getting up, or reduced activity levels, you should ask your vet about arthritis.
Suffering from high blood pressure? – your cat could be too! High blood pressure is very common in cats and can be associated with elevated thyroid hormones, kidney disease and even blindness. Just like in humans it is easy to measure and can unearth an otherwise silent killer.
Via:: Dr Kevin Pet Advice