A Veterinarians Top 3 Tips for Senior Dog Longevity

Senior Dog
A Veterinarians Top 3 Tips for Senior Dog Longevity

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We love our senior dogs and want to do everything that we can to keep them happy and healthy for as long as we possibly can. Our aging dogs are more likely to face health challenges than they were in their younger years. 

Here are my tips to help your dog live a long and healthy life.

1 - Find a Veterinarian That Both You and Your Dog Look Forward to Visiting

Most dog parents know that they should take their dog to the vet once a year.  Many don’t know that senior dogs should see the vet every six months so that the vet can track health trends over time and detect problems before they become catastrophic. Now more than ever, you want a veterinarian in your life that knows you and your dog. Communication is key. Make sure that you feel comfortable asking questions and that you understand the answers. A good relationship with your veterinarian is critical when discussing care and quality of life for your dog.

2- Maintain a Healthy Weight

A 2002 study showed that lean dogs, on a calorie restricted diet, lived an average of two years longer than their overweight litter mates.  This is earth shattering science.  There is no other known medical intervention that can promise a long life for your dog. If you love your dog, no matter what you feed them, keep them a healthy weight.

But most of us are not doing that. Did you know that 56% of dogs in America are overweight or obese?  This excess weight takes a toll on dogs as they age. It doesn’t just shorten their life, it makes it more painful too.  Carrying excess weight contributes to the pain of arthritis and can even accelerate the progression of a disease. This weight puts a strain on aging organs, like the heart and kidneys, and increases your dog’s risk of kidney disease and heart disease. Worse yet, excess weight increases your dog’s chances of getting cancer. If your dog is overweight, it’s time to do something about it. Before you start your senior dog on a diet, know that older dogs have unique dietary needs. It is best to consult your veterinarian to choose the best food for your dog. Your veterinarian will help you assess your dog’s optimum weight and oversee a healthy weight loss plan.

Senior Dog Health

3 -Pay Attention to Behavior Changes And Tell Your Vet

Is your dog’s personality changing? Your dog is getting older and it can be difficult to tell what are normal aging changes and what are medical problems that your dog needs your help with.

Is your dog slowing down? Has your dog started urinating or defecating in the house? Are they more grumpy or aggressive than usual? Do they seem out of it? Are they dropping food or only chewing on one side? Tell your vet. What looks like a behavioral change to you, might be a medical problem.  These may be the first sign of pain, infections and even cancer.  Early intervention and treatment may make your dog much more comfortable and may even extend their life.

Wags and Purrs,
Dr. Liz Bales

 

The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine graduate, Dr. Liz Bales, has only ever wanted to be a veterinarian. She has such a passion for her job, that she says if she weren’t a vet, she would be studying to become one. She loves “helping pets and the people who love them be happy and healthy!  Helping people translate complicated medical information into practical tips on how to care for, and connect with their pets is the best part of her job” Not just a veterinarian, Dr. Bales shares her passion through writing, giving speeches, and appearing on shows such as Fox and Friends, ABC News, and Cheddar. She has even started her own company, Doc and Phoebe, and invented a revolutionary cat product—the Indoor Hunting Feeder.

Dr. Bales’ favorite quote reflects her love and compassion for animals: “When a human dies there is a bridge they must cross to enter into Heaven. At the head of the bridge waits every animal that human encountered during their lifetime. The animals, based on what they know of this person, decide which humans may cross the bridge…and which are turned away.” With this in mind, Dr. Bales tries to live every day by her grandfather’s advice: “These days are precious. Don’t waste them.”

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