Old age creeps up on everyone, but for dogs it often comes way too soon. Often, people don't realize their dog is slowing down until the dog is very old. It's better to be aware and monitor your dog's health and behaviors in the earliest stages of old age. For the average dog, old age is considered to start around six to ten years of age.

Keeping up with Old Age

How to Care For a Senior Dog

Although old age is inevitable, there are some things that can slow it down and other things that can keep your older dog comfortable longer. As a minimum, there are three signs you should watch and three veterinary tests to keep up.

Personally Conducted Tests

1. Does your dog seem to have hearing or vision trouble?

Test your dog frequently and make note of changes: Does he respond to your voice? Does he bump into things? Does he seem to get lost in his own yard? Is it easier to sneak up on him? Don't rely on your own tests alone. Take the notes from your results to the veterinarian and let the doctor test your dog as well. The doctor will usually be able to notice changes sooner than you will.

2. Keep notes about your dog's activity and diet.

Watch for signs of arthritis, loss of hearing or sight, loss of appetite and unusual gait. If your dog is slow to come when called or seems to get lost in the yard, it could be a sign of deafness or vision trouble - or it could be a sign of senility. If your dog seems to lose its appetite, it could mean dental problems, digestion problems or pain. Tiring more easily and sleeping more are usually normal, but a sudden or dramatic change in either should also be mentioned to the veterinarian.

3. It's not always easy to know the source of the problem.

For that reason, it's recommended that aging dogs see their veterinarian every six months even if they seem to be doing well. The more frequent wellness checkup helps your veterinarian more readily notice slight changes and get to the root of the problem quickly. Many dogs have suffered for years, needlessly, because their owners simply didn't understand there was a problem. Older dogs may slow down but they still want attention, playtime, walks and treats. Any change in those desires is likely a symptom.

Be sure the veterinary examination is thorough. A senior dog's examination should always include the skin, joints, eyes, ears, feet and more frequent blood work. There are some areas the veterinarian should pay particular attention to:

Veterinarian Conducted Tests

4. Blood Work

More frequent blood work is necessary for senior dogs. Many vets recommend a baseline for blood work should be taken, depending on your vet's recommendation, when your dog is healthy and around five to seven years old. This will show your dog's natural blood profile, so the doctor can compare future changes against the baseline. From there, your veterinarian will suggest the frequency of blood work, based on your dog's overall health at the six-month examination.

5. X-Ray

In some cases, your veterinarian may suggest radiographs (x-rays) or other tests to better understand problems such as arthritis. These can show arthritis or other, more serious problems that could be masquerading as arthritis.

6. Skin Tests

A thorough skin examination should always be done. You can help with this by noticing and tracking any lumps, bumps or growths that you see when grooming and petting your dog. Most of these will be benign, but some will require attention or a biopsy. The biopsy is a minor procedure that allows the vet to send a sample from the growth to the lab to determine if there are cancerous cells in the growth.

There are challenges to living with a geriatric dog, but the end results are well worth any of the challenges. Enjoy your older dog in his twilight years and take the extra steps to keep him as healthy and comfortable as possible. When it's time, be ready to let go, and stay with him to the end.

 

Erika Remmington

This article was written by Erika Remmington. Erika is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband and 18 month old daughter. Click here to contact Erika.

 

 

Information Credit to Central Animal Emergency Clinic, a Vancouver Veterinary Hospital.

By Natalie Gomez on May 13, 2014 at 10:00 am 0 Comments
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Living in the country and owning a dog seems to go hand and hand, and there are several breeds of dog that are naturally energetic and need plenty of room. The following are five breeds that need extra space to thrive. Each would make the perfect companion for country living.

Country Dogs

Border Collie

While all types of Collies need plenty of room, Border Collies are a high-energy breed that need lots of space for exercise or playing games that involve running. These dogs are also one of the more intelligent breeds. Keeping them confined to small spaces could lead to boredom and bad behavior. Border Collies are climbers and jumpers. Make sure any Lynx Brand Fence Products Ltd. fencing in the yard is tall enough to keep them inside.

Country Dogs

Australian Shepherd

These dogs are easy-going, excellent with children, and need lots of room to run and play. They are natural herders and enjoy working hard. Australian Shepherds can become destructive or loud if not given enough room to run or given meaningful activities to keep them busy. The dog might even come up with his own job such as herding the kids or chasing after cars.

Country Dogs

Labrador Retriever

These dogs were originally bred to work alongside fisherman and to retrieve game. They're great with families and love to be around people. Retrievers enjoy a variety of activities including running, swimming, and playing fetch. They need quite a bit of space for daily activities as maintaining a healthy weight is sometimes difficult for these dogs.

Country Dogs

Dalmatian

The Dalmatian has a rich history of participating in activities that involve lots of running. They were at one time used for running alongside carriages while guarding their masters. To stay happy and healthy, these dogs need plenty of open space for exercise. Dalmatians tend to roam and would benefit from a large yard that is fenced in with a Calgary fence.

Country Dogs

Boxer

Boxers are strong, sturdy dogs that crave human interaction. These dogs need plenty of room to develop properly and stay in good shape. A lack of exercise can result in weakness and muscle loss. An adult Boxer needs to exercise several times a week for 30 to 45 minutes as long as the temperatures aren't too hot or cold. A backyard is sufficient as long as there is plenty of space.

While each of these breeds have different personalities and physical characteristics, they all need plenty of room to stay healthy and happy. These breeds can make the best country dogs.

 

Brooke ChaplanBrooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She has lived and worked in her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico after her graduation from the University of New Mexico. Contact her via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

By Natalie Gomez on May 06, 2014 at 9:19 am 0 Comments
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Like many parents, you might be resisting the temptation to buy your kids a puppy even though they constantly beg for one. Kids always promise, “we'll take care of it!” With younger kids, we know that they might care for a dog during the first few weeks, but then they won't help with the feeding, cleaning, and other chores. If your kids are dying to have a dog, you can teach them the responsibility that comes with having a pet by buying a smaller, more low maintenance pet first. Read on to learn about a few pets that are good precursors to buying a dog if you want to teach your kids responsibility first.

Preparing Your Kids for a Dog

Goldfish

If your kids are really little, you may want to start small. A goldfish is probably the most low-maintenance pet you can have—all you have to do is feed it and change the water. These jobs are so easy, you can have even your toddler help you do them. You can give them the responsibility of feeding the fish when they wake up in the morning and before they go to sleep at night. Then, when it comes time to clean the bowl, involve your child in the process and teach them the importance of taking care of the pet to keep it clean, healthy and happy.

Turtles

If your kids are between the ages of 5 and 10, a turtle is another good pet that is easy to care for, but still requires attention. Water and land turtles are becoming so popular as pets that many chain pet stores (and some local specialty pet stores) are beginning to sell them. Many species of turtles are very sociable but also quite independent, which makes them perfect for families with busy schedules and erratic free time to play with pets.

Iguanas

Iguanas are just one of a number of reptiles that are becoming popular pets (the list also includes snakes, bearded dragons, and turtles). Iguanas are best for older kids who can learn how to respect their space. Iguanas can be an easy pet for kids because they stay in a cage and need to be fed. Iguanas need to be kept in a humid environment, but you can usually buy a heated lamp to place in the cage so they stay at the correct temperature. This is a fun pet for little boys who are fascinated with snakes, dragons, and anything that creeps or crawls.

Ferrets

For kids who want a pet they can interact with a little bit more than just a fish in a bowl, ferrets can make great pets. They are soft and cuddly, extremely sociable, and very active when awake (but they sleep a lot too!) Ferrets work well for families with limited space, and give kids a little more responsibility since they will need to take the ferret out to play every now and again. Granted, this is a better pet for older kids, but it is much less responsibility than having a dog.

Children usually don't realize what a big responsibility having a pet is. Whether you are the one who wants a dog, or your kids won't stop asking for one, you can help teach the whole family responsibility by taking care of a pet on a smaller scale first. Consider your smaller pet a trial run for having a dog. Once your kids have proven that they can take care of a pet on a smaller scale, they will be more prepared for having a dog around the house. Information for this article was provided by the animal professionals of Evergreen Veterinary Clinic in San Jose, CA.

 

Dixie SomersThis article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write about business, women's interests, or home and family. Dixie lives in Arizona with her husband, three daughters, and a spunky Jack Russel Terrier who makes life interesting! You can follow her on Twitter: @DixieSomers

By Natalie Gomez on Apr 30, 2014 at 10:01 am 0 Comments
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