Older dogs need extra care | VailDaily.com

Older dogs need extra care

Nadine Lober

Note: This column originally appeared Oct. 30, 2004.The most visible sign of aging in a dog is usually the reluctance to get up, go up the stairs or jump in the car as well as a lack of energy. Remember, a dog can’t tell you he is in pain but most of you conscientious owners will be able to detect that your dog is in some kind of discomfort. Pain can be exhibited in a few ways: excessive panting, shaking, whining or immobility. Arthritis and hip dysplasia are the most common old-age reasons for inactivity and pain. Larger breed dogs are more predisposed, but smaller breeds and even cats can get arthritis. The earlier you detect this, the sooner you can start some treatment to slow down the process. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories help alleviate some pain and decrease the inflammation in the joints, but can be hard on the organs if given long term. Glucosamine/MSN supplements are very beneficial with minimal side effects. Acupuncture works at a deeper level in alleviating pain, slowing the disease process, re-balancing the body and giving energy. The degree of exercise also will have to be modified to fit your dog’s condition. Movement in the joints is a necessity, but your older dog can no longer follow you on your two-hour mountain bike rides or go for hour-long runs. It is very sad that your outdoor workout partner can no longer keep up. But you leave him at home and he looks so sad to be left alone. Take your older dog for walks and easier hikes – he will need this for physical well-being as well as his mental state. In the winter, when it is cold, your arthritic dog may exhibit more pain. A warmer and softer surface to sleep on will be easier on your dog too. Also, let him sleep in a warmer environment – if he is not already sleeping on your bed. There are other medical issues for older dogs that I will discuss in a later article – senility, kidney problems, bladder leaking and indoor wetting, to name a few. In the meantime, still give your pet a lot of care and affection, they love you unconditionally and still love to be with you whenever possible. Dr. Nadine Lober can be reached at Vail Valley Vet at 949-7972.Vail, Colorado

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