Senior Dogs

“Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog” - Sydney Jean Seward

Most dogs depending on their breed will be classified as 'senior' or 'mature' after around 7 years of age.

Better veterinary care is ensuring that companion animals are living longer and hopefully, healthier and happier lives. We want to maximise the time spent with your older dog and ensure this time is comfortable and well spent together.

Here at Johnston Street Veterinary Clinic we recommend twice yearly visits for our senior dogs. This is a full health examination with one of our veterinarians, which assesses your dog’s overall wellbeing. Dogs are resilient creatures and may not indicate any health concerns. However, ailments such as arthritis can usually be detected early so twice yearly examinations can help us ascertain the best treatment plan for your older pet, should they need one. We can also perform in house pathology on site, which we highly recommend for our senior patients. An in-house blood test can help us monitor kidney and liver function which can be greatly impacted as your pet ages.

As your pet gets older it is beneficial to be aware of age-related diseases and how you as an owner can make their later years as comfortable as possible. Here are some key points to focus on for your “senior” pet;

Provide appropriate nutrition There are many foods on the market so knowing what to feed your pet can be quite confusing. There are foods specifically designed for senior pets which are scientifically proven and precisely balanced to sustain kidney and vital organ health, be easily digested, promote ideal body weight and help facilitate joint health. Ask one of our friendly nurses more about this.

Slowing down You may notice that your dog moves physically slower with age. Subtle changes can include hesitation when using stairs or physical changes like getting up more slowly or appearing stiffer after a snooze. To help your pet you can provide comfortable bedding and environmental modifications such as easy ground level access for food and water bowls for example. Arthritis is a common ailment that can be easily overlooked, but treatment may give your dog a new zest for life.

Periodontal health Mature dogs can be prone to dental diseases which can cause great discomfort and also lead to many health problems. If you notice smelly breath, reluctance to eat hard kibble, bones or treats, dropping of food whilst eating or inappetence, this could indicate dental issues. At Johnston Street Vet we offer dental checks that can grade your pet’s oral health and diagnose if further treatment is necessary.

Senses Like us, our pet’s senses deteriorate with age. Things like sight, sound and smell can be impacted greatly when our dog’s mature. Things such as being less responsive to vocal communication, not being as enticed to eat and the inability to visualize you or objects are usual indications that your dog’s senses could be declining. By bringing your senior dog in for twice yearly examinations, this allows us to monitor any changes in your pet’s senses.

Changes to appetite, thirst and toileting We can sometimes find a change in senior pet’s appetite, thirst patterns and or toileting habits that can be from a variety of different things. Some age-related illnesses can be from dehydration, so it is important to provide easy access to drinking water on flat surfaces and multiple bowls around the house. However, if you notice changes such as a dramatic increase or decrease in eating, drinking or urinating we would recommend a veterinary examination.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or Doggy Dementia There has been a lot of research indicating that the behavior changes exhibited by senior dogs are directly attributable to Canine Cognitive Dysfunction syndrome similar to the human form of Alzheimers. The most common signs attributable to CCD can include; not being as interactive socially with owners; the loss of learnt behaviours such as toilet training; compulsive behaviours such as vocalization for no apparent reason, changes in appetite, confusion or disorientation such as staring into space or getting lost in corners and changes in sleep wake cycles such as increased day sleeping and restlessness at night. There are options of treatment which can greatly improve the quality of life for pets that are experiencing symptoms of CCD.

These old age problems can be successfully managed if veterinary help is sought. We are here to help you and your senior dog have the best quality of life that they can.

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