I have a spoiled rotten,10 yr old neutered male Shih Tzu, named Kuro. He's also blind, but still my sweet baby!
Although it's only him and me now, there's a lot of talking around our house. I didn't realize he knows so many words! Some people say it's repetition, but I prefer to think he's that smart.......
We moved to Michigan from Indiana 4 years ago, and for the first 7 years of Kuro's life, the only expense I had was vaccinations, grooming,and buying toys. ( Lots of toys)
But time passes on and age starts taking a toll, and he started having problems: bladder, tumor on paw,liver enzymes too high, dental work, eye problems,and for the past few months, skin problems.
Dr. Dhaliwal has done all of Kuro's surgeries, and worked with me on the other problems. He never loses his patience, and stays calm while I am asking my 100 questions .
Dr. Dhaliwal is definitely in the correct profession. It seems he has a passion for not only helping animals, but he takes every opportunity to learn new techniques so he can help them even more.
The staff is also very nice. They greet you with a smile, take the time to talk, explain meds,etc. and if Dr. D. doesn't call to check on Kuro after a procedure, the staff will, and that means a lot to me.
Michigan Avenue Animal Hospital is a caring place, and everyone makes sure your pet is given the best care. Whatever it takes to make you and your pet "HAPPY!"
Senior Dog Care - Special Considerations for Dogs
Dogs older than seven years of age are considered senior pets. Senior dogs are in the stage of life in which the aging process is beginning to affect every organ system. Some organs "wear out" faster or are more susceptible to cumulative damage than others, so certain observations are especially important to make. The following is a list of key recommendations that we feel are important for older dogs.
- Keep vaccinations current. Your veterinarian will determine the proper vaccine schedule for your senior pet's lifestyle. Most senior pets will receive most vaccines every three years. Some vaccines with shorter duration of immunity such as the "kennel cough," Leptospirosis or Lyme disease vaccines may be given more frequently (every six to twelve months).
- Have blood and urine tests evaluated at least once a year. Early detection of chronic diseases such as kidney disease, thyroid disease and diabetes is the key to successful treatment and preservation of quality of life.
- Brush your pet frequently to prevent matts. This can contribute to skin infections and may hide skin tumors.
- Clip toe nails as needed to prevent overgrowth. Long toe nails may cause the dog to stand and walk abnormally and result in pain or accelerate and exacerbate arthritic changes.
- Keep plenty of fresh water available and monitor its consumption. Increases in water consumption or urination are often associated with conditions such as diabetes, kidney and liver disease.
- Keep other pets from preventing your senior pet access to food and water.
- Keep your senior pet indoors most of the time, especially in inclement weather.
- Weigh on the same scale and record results at least every two months. Changes in weight can be an early indicator of disease.
How often should I take my senior dog to the veterinarian?
"You should take your senior dog to the veterinarian at least once a year for an annual check-up."
You should take your senior dog to the veterinarian at least once a year for an annual check-up. It is very important to have your veterinarian examine your dog if you notice for any of the following:
1. Sustained significant increase in water consumption. (normal water intake should be less than 100 ml/kg/day or approximately 1 ½ cups (12 ounces)/day for a 10 pound dog)
2. Sustained significant increase in urination.
3. Weight loss.
4. Significant decrease in appetite or failure to eat for more than two consecutive days.
5. Significant increase in appetite.
6. Repeated vomiting.
7. Diarrhea that lasts over three days.
8. Difficulty in passing stool or urine.
9. Sudden loss of housetraining.
10. Lameness that lasts more than three days, or lameness in more than one leg.
11. Noticeable decrease in vision, especially if sudden in onset or pupils that do not constrict in bright light.
12. Masses, ulcerations (open sores), or multiple scabs on the skin that persist more than one week.
13. Foul mouth odor or drooling that lasts over two days.
14. Increasing size of the abdomen.
15. Increasing inactivity or amount of time spent sleeping.
16. Hair loss, especially if accompanied by scratching, or if the loss is in specific areas (as opposed to generalized).
17. Persistent coughing or gagging.
18. Excessive panting.
19. Sudden collapse or bouts of weakness.
20. Inability to chew dry food.
21. A seizure (convulsion or "fit").
Senior Health Exams
regular veterinary examinations is one of the most important steps pet owners can
take to keep their pets in good health. When dogs and cats enter the senior
years, these health examinations are more important than ever. Senior care,
which starts with the regular veterinary exam, is needed to catch and delay the
onset or progress of disease and for the early detection of problems such as
organ failure and osteoarthritis. AAHA ( American Animal Hospital Association) recommends that healthy senior dogs and cats
visit the veterinarian every six months for a complete exam and laboratory
testing. Keep in mind that every year for a dog or cat is equivalent to 5–7
human years. In order stay current with your senior pet’s health care,
twice-a-year exams are a must. During the senior health exam, veterinarian will
ask you a series of questions regarding any changes in your pet’s activity and
veterinarian will also conduct a complete examination of all of your pet’s body
systems. Client education and laboratory testing are also key components of the senior exam.
depend on laboratory results to help them understand the status of your pet’s
health. When your pet is healthy, laboratory tests provide a means to determine
your pet’s “baseline” values. When your pet is sick, the veterinarian can more
easily determine whether or not your pet’s lab values are abnormal by comparing
the baseline values to the current values and also can determine the trend in
change of values. Subtle changes in these laboratory test results, even in the
outwardly healthy animal, may signal the presence of an underlying disease.
AAHA recommends that dogs and cats at middle age undergo laboratory tests at
least annually. During the senior years, laboratory tests are recommended every
six months for healthy dogs and cats. At a minimum, the following tests are
Blood Count This common test
measures the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in a
given sample of blood. The numbers and types of these cells give the
veterinarian information needed to help diagnose anemia, infections and
leukemia. A complete blood count also helps veterinarian monitor your pet’s
response to some treatments.
- Urinalysis Laboratory analysis of urine is a tool used to
detect the presence of one or more specific substances that normally do not
appear in urine, such as protein, sugar, white blood cells or blood. A
measurement of the dilution or concentration of urine is also helpful in
diagnosing diseases. Urinalysis can assist the veterinarian in the diagnosis of
urinary-tract infections, diabetes, dehydration, kidney problems and many other
(Cysto)- the direct removal of urine from the bladder with a needle. The
safest, cleanest, easiest method of urine sampling, especially in cats.
Panel Blood-chemistry panels measure electrolytes, enzymes and chemical elements
such as calcium and phosphorous. This information helps your veterinarian
determine how various organs, such as the kidneys, pancreas, and liver, are
currently functioning. The results of these tests help your veterinarian
formulate an accurate diagnosis, prescribe proper therapy, and monitor the
response to treatment. Further testing may be recommended based on the results
of these tests.
Level (T4)- Blood test to measure the amount of circulating thyroid hormone.
Deficiency of Thyroxine ( Hypothyroidism) is common in dogs resulting in lethargy,
weight gain, and dermatological problems. Increased levels of thyroxine (Hyperthyroidism) are common in senior cats resulting in
weight loss, increased appetite and thirst, and heart problems.
Evaluation Microscopic examination of your pet’s feces can provide information
about many different kinds of diseases, such as difficulties with digestion,
internal bleeding, and disorders of the pancreas. Most importantly, though,
this test confirms the presence of intestinal parasites, such as roundworm,
hookworm, whipworm, tapeworm and giardia.
- Radiographs/Ultrasound- Imaging studies allow
visualization of many internal organs including the bladder, liver, spleen,
kidney, pancreas and heart. These are especially useful in diagnosis of cardiac
problems as well as abdominal growths and tumors.
Additionally, depending on your individual
pet’s condition and other factors, other tests and assessments might be
recommended. These include heartworm tests; feline leukemia/feline
immunodeficiency virus test in cats; blood pressure evaluation; urine protein
evaluation; cultures; imaging such as x-rays, ultrasound, and echocardiography;
electrocardiography, and special ophthalmic evaluations, among others.
Additional tests become especially important in evaluating senior pets that
show signs of sickness or are being prepared for anesthesia and surgery.
The Effects of Age
Changes With the senior years comes a general “slowing down” in pets. As their
major senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell) dull, you may find that
your pet has a slower response to general external stimuli. This loss of
sensory perception often is a slow, progressive process, and it may even escape
your notice. The best remedy for gradual sensory reduction is to keep your pet
active—playing and training are excellent ways to keep their senses sharp. Pets
may also be affected mentally as they age. Just as aging humans begin to forget
things and are more susceptible to mental conditions, your aging animals may
also begin to confront age-related cognitive and behavior changes. Most of
these changes are rather subtle and can be addressed in a proactive manner.
Regular senior health exams can help catch and treat these problems before they
control your pet’s life.
physical changes your pets experience are generally easier to spot than the
sensory changes. As the body wears out, its ability to respond to infection is
reduced, and the healing process takes longer. Therefore, it is crucial to
consult a veterinarian if you notice a significant change in behavior or the
physical condition of your pet. Many of the signs indicating that animals are
approaching senior citizenship are the same for both cats and dogs, but they
can indicate a variety of different problems (see Signs of a Problem, below). A
very common and frustrating problem for aging pets is inappropriate
elimination. The kidneys are one of the most common organ systems to wear out
on a cat or dog, and as hormone imbalance affects the function of the kidneys,
your once well-behaved pet may have trouble controlling his bathroom habits. If
you are away all day, he may simply not be able to hold it any longer, or urine
may dribble out while he sleeps at night. In addition, excessive urination or
incontinence may be indicative of diabetes or kidney failure, both of which are
treatable if caught early enough.
older pets benefit from specially formulated food that is designed with older
bodies in mind. Obesity in pets is often the result of reduced exercise and
overfeeding and is a risk factor for problems such as heart disease. Because
older pets often have different nutritional requirements, these special foods
can help keep your pet’s weight under control and reduce consumption of
nutrients that are risk factors for the development of diseases, as well as
organ- or age-related changes.
is yet another aspect of preventive geriatric care for your pets. You should
definitely keep them going as they get older—if they are cooped up or kept
lying down, their bodies will deteriorate much more quickly. You may want to
ease up a bit on the exercise with an arthritic or debilitated cat or dog.
Otherwise, you should keep them as active—mentally and physically—as possible
in order to keep them sharp. Surgery for the Older Pet In the event your
veterinarian is considering surgery or any other procedure in which anesthesia
is needed, special considerations are taken to help ensure the safety of your
senior pet. AAHA recommends all senior dogs and cats undergo the laboratory
testing mentioned above, ideally within two weeks of any anesthetized
procedure. A blood pressure evaluation and additional tests might also be
recommended, depending on your individual pet. These screening tools can
provide critical information to the health care team to help determine the
proper anesthesia and drug protocol for your pet, as well as make you aware of
any special risk factors that might be encountered.
experience pain just like humans do, The AAHA guidelines encourage
veterinarians to use pain assessment as the fourth vital sign (along with
temperature, pulse and respiration). The different types of pain include acute
pain, which comes on suddenly as a result of an injury, surgery, or an
infection, and chronic pain, which is long lasting and usually develops slowly
(such as arthritis). You can play a key role in monitoring your pet to
determine whether he suffers from pain.
To help ensure your pet lives comfortably during the senior life stage,
it’s critical to work with your veterinarian to tailor a senior wellness plan
that is best for your dog or cat. Be sure to monitor behavior and physical
conditions and report anything unusual to your veterinarian, who can help your
pet head into the twilight years with ease.