In my daily practice, it is common to guide owners during the transition of their dogs into old age, a stage in which the dog is recognized as a senior dog. Dogs have a shorter life expectancy than humans and this is why, sadly, we often have to live their old age in a full stage of our lives; therefore, it becomes difficult to understand that our dog, only 8 or 10 year old, does not play so much anymore or can no longer accompany us in daily training with the same energy.
Old age in dogs as in humans is a gradual process that is accompanied by a greater deterioration of one or more organs or functions. That is, in old age we can develop heart, bone, digestive, and/or endocrine problems, among others, that are irreversible and with which we must live accompanied by one or more treatments.
This is why I primarily talk to the owners about the life expectancy of their dog, depending on the size, breed, diet, lifestyle, previous conditions and even their ancestors, from their first visit to the office. With this, I seek that the owners become familiar with the stages of life of their dog, in addition to understanding what is the best time to change the diet, supplement it, modify daily habits, and start with check-ups.
A dog's diet is essential to preserve and improve their health, alleviate diseases and keep them healthy. Food recommendations, as we have mentioned in previous entries, must come from a health professional, in this case from a veterinarian since they are the accredited, certified and trained person to determine the nutritional needs of each individual from birth until he becomes in a senior dog. The diet for an elderly dog will depend on its conditions, its size, its breed, lifestyle and even where it lives. It is undoubtedly a tailored suit, which sometimes needs to be supplemented with vitamins, antioxidants, fatty acids, etc.
The habits of an individual with joint problems, previous surgeries, heart failure or epilepsy, will not be the same as they were in their youth. Potentially we must change their diet to a senior or mature diet, followed by low-impact or just shorter walks, we will play more at home with them than outside, we will do massage sessions for their muscle aches and there will undoubtedly be more naps together while we watch it rain through the window.
Finally, what is a "check-up" and what is its importance to improve my dog's quality of life? The check-up is a set of studies (blood, urine, x-rays, ultrasound, etc.) that are performed on dogs starting at a certain age and are repeated at least once a year, with the intention of helping us see changes that potentially allow us to diagnose diseases that can be treated early and thus improve the quality and life expectancy of our furry loved ones.
The old age of our dogs is also a wonderful stage, which will sometimes coincide with our own, and having the fortune to live it by their side is one more gift that they offer us. Veterinary doctors have more and better tools that are designed so that our elderly or elderly dogs have a full and comfortable old age.
Reach out to your veterinary doctor and talk about the stage of life your dog is in and how they can improve their hope and quality of life today and in the future.