Senior Dog Care – Special Considerations for Older Dogs

By Ernest Ward, DVM

forgetful senior dog cartoonDogs older than 7 years of age are considered senior pets. Senior dogs are in the stage of life in which the aging process is beginning to affect every organ system. Some organs “wear out” faster or are more susceptible to cumulative damage than others, so certain observations are especially important to make.

The following is a list of key recommendations that we feel are important for older dogs.

i Love Dogs Keep vaccinations current. Your veterinarian will determine the proper vaccine schedule for your senior pet’s lifestyle. Most senior pets will receive most vaccines every three years. Some vaccines with shorter duration of immunity, such as the “kennel cough,” Leptospirosis or Lyme disease vaccines may be given more frequently (every six to 12 months).

i Love Dogs Have blood and urine tests evaluated at least once a year. Early detection of chronic diseases such as kidney disease, thyroid disease and diabetes is the key to successful treatment and preservation of your dog’s quality of life.

i Love Dogs Brush your pet frequently to prevent matts, which can contribute to skin infections and may hide skin tumors.

i Love Dogs Clip toe nails as needed to prevent overgrowth. Long nails may cause your dog to stand and walk abnormally and result in pain, or accelerate and exacerbate arthritic changes.

i Love Dogs Keep plenty of fresh water available and monitor its consumption. Increases in water consumption or urination are often associated with conditions such as diabetes, kidney and liver disease.

i Love Dogs Keep other pets from preventing your senior pet access to food and water.

i Love Dogs Keep your senior pet indoors most of the time, especially in inclement weather.

i Love Dogs Weigh him on the same scale and record results at least every two months. Changes in weight can be an early indicator of disease.

How often should I take my senior dog to the veterinarian?

You should take your senior dog to the veterinarian at least once a year for an annual check-up. It is very important to have your veterinarian examine your dog if you notice for any of the following:

i Love Dogs Sustained significant increase in water consumption. Normal water intake should be less than approximately 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) per day for a 10 pound dog.

i Love Dogs Sustained significant increase in urination.

i Love Dogs Weight loss.

i Love Dogs Significant decrease in appetite or failure to eat for more than two consecutive days.

i Love Dogs Significant increase in appetite.

i Love Dogs Repeated vomiting.

i Love Dogs Diarrhea that lasts more than three days.

i Love Dogs Difficulty in passing stool or urine.

i Love Dogs Sudden loss of housetraining.

i Love Dogs Lameness that lasts more than three days, or lameness in more than one leg.

i Love Dogs Noticeable decrease in vision, especially if sudden in onset or his pupils do not constrict in bright light.

i Love Dogs Masses, ulcerations (open sores) or multiple scabs on the skin that persist more than one week.

i Love Dogs Foul mouth odor or drooling that lasts more than two days.

i Love Dogs Increasing size of the abdomen.

i Love Dogs Increasing inactivity or amount of time spent sleeping.

i Love Dogs Hair loss, especially if accompanied by scratching, or if the loss is in specific areas (as opposed to generalized).

i Love Dogs Persistent coughing or gagging.

i Love Dogs Excessive panting.

i Love Dogs Sudden collapse or bouts of weakness.

i Love Dogs Inability to chew dry food.

i Love Dogs A seizure (convulsion or “fit”).

PHOTO: VCA Animal Hospitals

Category : Blog &NEWS &Seasonal Articles &Senior Dog Health &Winter

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