Tuesday, November 29

Your dog is getting older: this is what you need to know to improve its quality of life


Although you cannot stop the clock so that your dog stops getting older, you can adapt to his new needs. You just have to pay attention to certain signs that warn you of the arrival of his old age in order to provide him with the quality of life he deserves in this new stage.

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In 2019 the life expectancy of dogs increased by 4% (the equivalent of six more months) compared to 2002. This is demonstrated by a AMVAC Sector Reportwhere its then manager, Jaime Díaz, stated that “on average, dogs live 11 years, but more and more often large breed dogs exceed 12 years of life expectancy and small breeds calmly reach 15 or 18 years”.

Large-sized dogs usually begin to age after seven years, while small breeds do so around eight. When they approach these ages, the first gray hairs may appear on your dog, they no longer want to play as much or they pee at home again as when they were a puppy.

As explained by Micaela de la Maza, founder and editor of the canine guide Mr Dog“when this happens, it is best to take him to the vet to detect the problem, however slight it may be, and start ‘thinking like a dog’, that is, putting ourselves in his shoes and implementing the necessary measures to improve his day-to-day ”.

There are countless guidelines that can help your dog face this new path with a better quality of life. Guidelines provided by Carlota Segura, veterinary surgeon of Kivet Veterinary Clinics with 24 years of profession.

1. Prevention is better than cure

You can’t slow down your pet’s aging, but you can try to prevent it from reaching old age with suffering. If your dog starts behaving strangely, take him to the vet to have him checked out and give you instructions to follow to facilitate his well-being.

One of the veterinarian’s advice is based on anticipation: “It is very important to try to get ahead of this age, but if old age arrives and, for example, our dog is overweight, we must try to keep it at its ideal weight, because that It will save you a lot of trouble for the rest of your life.”

2. Exercise adapted to your age

Don’t worry, trust your instinct. You will know when your dog begins to tire and how to adjust the pace. The main thing is not to fall into a sedentary lifestyle and keep it active according to its new capabilities. If an animal has always taken short walks, now they will be even more so, although the reality is that everything will depend on the physical state in which it is.

3. New stage, new food

Dogs’ physical abilities decline with age, so they no longer need the same amount of energy input as before. For this reason, it is advisable to provide him with special feed for his age, which will maintain his muscle mass and protect his joints.

“Feeds for the senior stage usually contain fewer calories and protein to preserve the kidney and, depending on the dental health of the animal, they can even be softer feeds to facilitate chewing,” emphasizes Segura.

4. Hygiene, brushing and skin care

“The accumulation of tartar causes inflammation of the gums and lack of mobility or the loss of the teeth themselves, which makes chewing very painful,” insists the veterinarian. Therefore, brushing their teeth with paste for dogs and regular check-ups is essential.

Another of the main symptoms of old age in dogs is callused skin. For Segura, “the best thing to do is give your dog nutraceuticals, that is, food supplements such as the famous fish oil rich in Omega 3.

This helps, not only in the regeneration of the skin, but also in the improvement of cardiac functions and in the relief of joint pain in dogs with osteoarthritis“.

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome: the most common disease in dogs

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome is a deterioration of the central nervous system of dogs, normally unknown to the owners and whose early detection is decisive to provide a useful treatment.

According to research carried out this 2022 by the University of Washington and The Dog Aging Projectit has been found that from the age of 10, dogs have a 52% increased risk with each seasonal year of suffering from CDS.

As Segura explains, “it is a syndrome similar to Alzheimer’s in humans, with symptoms such as wandering, lack of sleep, urinating inside the house, bumping into walls, loss of vision, less response to stimuli, greater irritability, etc.” It would be like this, a kind of canine Alzheimer’s.

The first thing is to go to the veterinarian in case pharmacological treatment has to be dispensed. Other measures you can take range from placing rugs at home to show the dog the way to go, to establishing routines that reduce stress, turning on a light at night or interacting with him and other dogs if he is socially isolated.

Other diseases and how to deal with them

Before any symptoms of illness, you should take your dog to the vet, but there are signs that will help you identify them. For example, if your dog wants to walk less, takes shorter steps, limps, or doesn’t stretch his hind limbs, he may have osteoarthritis.

Then you would benefit from an orthopedic bed, moving stairs, or heated mats to improve blood flow. Paying attention to possible lumps on the skin, in the mucous membranes of the mouth or in the breasts is essential for the detection of tumors.

On the other hand, if you see that the animal consumes a lot of water or is very hungry, it could be a symptom of diabetes or hypothyroidism.

Cuddles, cuddles and more cuddles

After all the life of an animal that has given us joy, loyalty, companionship and unconditional love, it is time to give them back everything they have given us.

This translates into offering them the best veterinary care, the patience of not scolding them when they do something wrong, and all the love in the world to remind them every day that they are the best possible life partner.

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