By Catt Moran
Living with older dogs requires special considerations.
As they age, our faithful companions experience some of the same aches, pains and ailments as we humans; everything from osteoarthritis to vision impairment, and incontinence.
But thanks to the advances in veterinary care and new products, there are many things we can do to keep our senior dogs happy and healthy.
Jeff Eckerling, CEO of www.doggyloot.com, recommends orthopedic beds for dogs with painful joints or diseases such as hip dysplasia. In addition, he suggests to “find an orthopedic dog bed that has an easily removable cover for machine washing too. The waterproof covers are also great if your dog suffers from incontinence. The Fur Haven bed is a common favorite at doggyloot because the whole bed can be washed.”
Certain medications can help with osteoarthritis and similar joint aches and pains. Supplements such as chondroitin and glucosamine help lubricate the joints and are readily available online and at most pet stores.
Some vets recommend a daily regimen of low dose aspirin for mild arthritis. In more severe cases, an injectable drug called Adequan has provided relief to many older animals with joint issues. There is even a promising new method for treating joint pain involving stem cell treatment which, although expensive, has resulted in remarkable results.
Holistic treatments are gaining popularity as well.
Dr. Heather Douglass, veterinarian and owner of Douglass Animal Hospital in Osseo, Minnesota, is a proponent of acupuncture and acupressure to treat joint and muscular problems. As a licensed acupuncturist, she has brought positive results for her four-legged patients with various ailments, including fecal incontinence.
There are several products on the market to treat and manage both urinary and fecal incontinence. The key to treatment is to first determine the underlying cause through tests.
If medication alone cannot resolve the problem, pet owners can purchase diapers for their dogs for use in certain situations (these are not recommended for long term wear due to the potential for “urine burn” on the animal’s skin), indoor potty pads and, as mentioned previously, washable bedding.
Dr. Bernadine Cruz, member of the American Veterinary Association and vet at Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in Southern California, stresses that good oral hygiene is essential to our pet’s health, particularly as they age. Poor tooth and gum hygiene is linked to several organ diseases including those of heart and liver.
She recommends a gentle regimen of desensitizing your dog’s natural reluctance to touching the inside of his mouth, then eventually using finger brush or specially-designed dog toothbrush to clean your dog’s teeth on a regular basis. This will improve your dog’s health and help avoid expensive dental treatments requiring anesthesia. For more information, visit Dr. Cruz’s website.
There are many options out there for pet owners to help their senior dog live a long and comfortable life. After all the love and companionship they’ve given over the years, their elderly bones deserve it!
Catt Moran is a freelancer with a passion for animals and writing. She lives in Maine with her husband and two dogs, Abby and Josie. Catt posts samples of her writing at cattmoranwriter.blogspot.com and writes reviews about local restaurants at hungrygals.blogspot.com.