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How to Properly Take Care of Your Senior Dog

How to Properly Take Care of Your Senior Dog 1

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One day, we notice the white beard and opaque reflections in the eyes of our four-legged companion. Yes, they are aging!

In order to continue enjoying good moments together, we need to be attentive to certain signs to provide appropriate care and preserve their health.

At what age does a dog become a senior?

Depending on their size, weight, living conditions, and genetic potential, our dogs do not age at the same rate.

It is generally considered that the physiological senior status begins at two-thirds of their life expectancy.

For example, a large dog enters the senior stage after reaching 7 years of age, with an average life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. A small breed dog can live much longer (15 to 18 years), so their old age will only start around 10 years.

How old is your dog really?

How to Properly Take Care of Your Senior Dog

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The senior dog health check-up

From a certain age, it becomes essential to schedule periodic and comprehensive medical visits accompanied by additional examinations.

The senior dog health check-up

The “senior health check-up” helps to better understand the clinical condition of your animal and detect abnormalities. Aging affects vital functions, and many age-related conditions initially progress in a less noticeable way.

Typically, this type of check-up allows for the detection of kidney diseases, heart failure, diabetes, liver and pancreatic disorders, as well as hormonal diseases. It helps to assess potential pain related to arthritis. The earlier these problems are detected, the better the treatment can be.

What are the signs of aging in dogs?

You may observe one or more of the following signs indicating that your animal is getting older:

  • Difficulty climbing up or down stairs.
  • Difficulty jumping (furniture, car, obstacles, etc.).
  • Joint stiffness (difficulty getting up, stiffness in gait).
  • “Accidents” (urine and feces) in the house.
  • Increased thirst and need to urinate.
  • Reduced level of physical activity.
  • Excessive panting.
  • Behavioral changes / cognitive changes: dizziness, repetitive movements, confusion, disorientation, excessive barking, less interaction with family members, less responsive when called, may not greet family members when they come home.
  • Tremors.
  • Changes in coat quality.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.
  • Decreased appetite or weight gain.

How to Properly Take Care of Your Senior Dog

What additional examinations are performed during a senior check-up?

Depending on your animal’s clinical examination, we offer several types of examinations.

BLOOD TESTS

A blood sample is an essential complement to the clinical and behavioral examination of the dog during a “senior check-up.” When the dog does not show any suggestive pathological signs, a routine blood test helps measure physiological parameters that indicate the proper functioning of certain organs.

It includes the following tests:

  • A complete blood count (CBC): this involves counting the elements present in the blood, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, etc. It can help detect infections, anemia, and even certain cancers.
  • Biochemical parameter analysis (urea, creatinine, glucose, proteins, etc.): this helps assess the nutritional status of the animal, the possible presence of diabetes, as well as the proper or improper functioning of the liver, kidneys, and other organs.
  • A mineral panel including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, etc., which also reflects the functioning of organs such as the kidneys.

Regular monitoring of these parameters helps detect diseases like renal failure at an early stage, greatly facilitating treatment and limiting the negative consequences of prolonged imbalance. Sometimes, these initial tests may lead to the prescription of more specific investigations (hormonal, parasitic, etc.) in case of anomalies or questionable results.

Note: These blood tests are not exclusive to seniors, and their implementation as part of pre-anesthetic assessments, for example, not only helps detect often unsuspected abnormalities but also establishes reference standards for your animal. These values will allow for a more personalized follow-up of your dog from year to year.

URINE TESTS

Often overlooked, a simple urine analysis provides valuable information about the general condition of the dog and certain pathologies such as diabetes or renal insufficiency.

IMAGING EXAMS

We have several tools available for different needs, ranging from simple radiography and ultrasound to more specific exams like CT scans or endoscopy.

Medical imaging provides valuable information about the health status of a senior dog. A chest and abdominal X-ray can screen for heart and lung abnormalities and identify indicative signs of developing tumors or arthritis in the joints.

mahatma gandhi portrait

- Mahatma Gandhi

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”