2 The Green, Thurlby, PE10 0EB
T: 01778 420462
Market Deeping Practice
4 Stamford Rd, Market Deeping, PE6 8AB
T: 01778 380111, E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Market Deeping Practice
4 Stamford Rd, Market Deeping, PE6 8AB
T: 01778 380111
Health Checks In Older Dogs
Dog breeds mature at different ages; giant breeds can be considered ‘old’ at the age of 4 years, small breeds by 10 years of age. Therefore in dogs the age at which we recommend screening checks will vary. Our vets can discuss this with you.
‘Old age is not a disease’
Often a problem which you suspect is due to the advancing age of your pet may actually be the result of a treatable medical condition.
- A dog that has ‘slowed down’ may be suffering from arthritis, heart disease or cognitive dysfunction (‘dementia’).
- Weight loss and a pickier appetite may be an early sign of liver or kidney disease or dental pain.
- Various medical conditions can cause or increase the likelihood of urinary ‘accidents’ in the house.
As your dog ages, there are changes to their physiology, behaviour and vulnerability to illnesses. These include:
- Dental disease
- Heart Disease
- ‘Lumps and bumps’
- Cognitive dysfunction (‘dementia’)
- Urinary incontinence
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
Many of these conditions do not show symptoms early in their course and at this stage are only identifiable through testing. They are however likely to be progressive. The earlier a problem is detected the better it can be managed, improving longevity and quality of life for your dog.
Many common conditions can be diagnosed with a clinical exam and laboratory screening therefore regular health checks are advisable. These could be combined with your annual vaccinations. If you feel that your dog is actually showing signs of ageing or any symptoms of a problem, we would particularly recommend booking an appointment.
We offer a “Wellness Package” which decreases the cost of initial screening tests. For more information please visit the Wellness Package for dogs Page.
With ageing, the nutritional requirements of you dog may change. We have various diets designed for the older dog as well as for specific problems such as obesity, joint pain or dental disease.
Royal Canin ‘Mature’ diet
This is a very good quality food, containing supplements to aid cognitive function and preserve muscle mass. There are different versions for smaller, medium and larger dog breeds, as they have different requirements with ageing, and bigger dog breeds tend to ‘mature’ faster than smaller dog breeds.
- Small (under 10kg), over 8 years – additional supplements for healthy skin and teeth.
- Medium (10-25kg), over 7 years – easy to digest with additional supplements for healthy skin.
- Large (25kg), over 5 years – easy to digest with additional supplements for healthy joints.
Royal Canin ‘Satiety’ & ‘Obesity’ diets
If your dog is overweight or obese, they may benefit from one of the weight management diets. Obesity is a major health problem. It can exacerbate joint pain, heart disease, respiratory disease, skin disease and can lead to diabetes. It has been proven that obese dogs have a shorter life expectancy than dogs with an ideal bodyweight. These diets are designed to help your dog lose weight whilst still getting all the vitamins and minerals they need from their diet.
We run ‘weight clinics’ to help, provide advice, support and monitoring progress. Please phone us if you would like further information about this.
Royal Canin ‘Mobility’ diet
This diet contains various extra supplements; including helping maintain mobility in dogs with joint problems such as arthritis, or following joint surgery.
Common Health problems in older dogs
Treatment options include:
- Joint supplements – Chondroitin, Glucosamine and essential fatty acids (EFAs)
- Cartrophen injections – Weekly for 4 week course, then every 4-6 weeks
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories ‘NSAIDs’
- Weight loss – overweight animals put significantly more pressure on their joints so weight loss can drastically improve quality of life
- Exercise – regular gentle exercise, including hydrotherapy, maintains muscle mass and reduces stiffness
- Therapeutic Laser
- Other pain relief medications. (DO NOT USE HUMAN MEDICATION AS MANY OF THESE DRUGS ARE TOXIC TO DOGS! We have medications that are designed for long term use in dogs, which are safe and well tolerated.)
Often, a combination of treatments will be used.
Dental disease is a very common problem in older dogs. Signs can include reluctance to eat, dropping food, salivation, pawing at the mouth and bad breath. Often owners do not recognise the discomfort their pet has been in with a sore mouth until they see the change in their pets after treatment with increased activity and interaction.
Build-up of tartar on the teeth leads to sore gums and infection. A sore mouth can lead to problems eating and infection can spread and cause disease in other organs such as the heart and kidneys. Infection in the mouth means that your dog is swallowing bacteria constantly which can also lead to vomiting and diarrhoea. There are many options available to improve the health of your dog’s mouth.
Initial treatment may involve a general anaesthetic to scale and polish teeth. Any diseased teeth may require removal. At Animates we offer a fixed price Dental Scale and Polish. See the following link for more information. Following this we can formulate a plan that suits you for on-going dental care. This may include brushing your pet’s teeth, special dental diets and treatments for the drinking water to reduce further problems.
Lumps and bumps
Treatment usually involves twice daily insulin injections. The needles are tiny and often your pet won’t even feel them. A prescription diet can really help to keep the condition well controlled.
Cognitive dysfunction (‘dementia’)
Your dog may show signs of being more restless, pacing behaviour, disorientation, vocalisation or a decrease in interaction with you. They may also show signs of inappropriate toileting behaviour.
Specialised supplements (for example ‘Aktivait’) are available to help reduce free radical damage and improve nerve transmission in the brain. We also have drugs which increase blood flow to the brain, helping it work more efficiently. This can help to improve your dog’s energy and feeling of well-being.
Diagnosis is relatively straightforward and involves a urine test and a blood test.
Treatment includes a prescription food and possibly a dietary supplement, and in some, but not all cases, tablets. Occasionally your dog may need to be hospitalised and placed on intravenous fluids.