More Common Health Concerns for Your Senior Small Dog
Arthritis in Senior Small Dogs:
Arthritis has become a common ailment in dogs, especially the older dog. Several factors contribute to this condition, including an all-cooked-food diet, lack of exercise, poor absorption of minerals and lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. It occurs as inflammation in bones and joints. The onset is gradual and the owner notices the dog having increased difficulty in walking, getting up, lying down, running and moving in general.
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Putting an arthritic dog on distilled water exclusively will help to leach out some of the mineral deposits that have settled in the joints. Your dog also needs a live-food diet. You may use a good-quality dry kibble as a base, but along with it give your dog plenty of sprouts, grated raw vegetables, garlic, and raw fruits, all of which are alkalizing to the body. Any meat should be raw to slightly braised. Put chopped comfrey and parsley leaves in with the food.
Keep your small dog in a warm, dry place and try to give him some moderate exercise in sunlight. You can feed rosemary leaves daily as an infusion (steep them in water). The inflamed areas can be massaged with 4 tablespoons of raw, unrefined olive oil, 1 tablespoon of linseed oil and ½ teaspoon of eucalyptus oil. Nutrients that may be beneficial in treating arthritis are vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E, and F; calcium, iodine, lecithin, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and protein.
Bad Breath in Senior Small Dogs:
Bad breath is often caused by a constipated digestive system, locking in putrefying toxic wastes. This comes from having too much dead, refined food and not enough raw, live food or fiber (roughage) in the diet. A sluggish system will give back the stench of indigestion, all the way back up to the mouth again.
Constipation in Senior Small Dogs:
A small dog can be constipated even if he has a daily bowel movement. In fact, only a few dogs are not constipated throughout their lifetime, although this is rarely evident to their owners. Infusions of rosemary leaves and flowers, lemon juice and water, apple juice, raw honey, and a short fast (several days) will all serve to sweeten up the intestines. Regular fasting, one day a week, on distilled water and raw honey, will help to rest the digestive organs on a regular basis, giving them a chance to catch up on their contents. Use lots of raw fruits and vegetables in the diet, give yogurt to reinstate the friendly bacterial flora and feed only raw or lightly braised meat.
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Feeding the Senior Small Dog
What changes do you need to make to your small dog’s feeding regime as she gets older?
The changes you make to your small dog’s feeding regime, and when you make them, will vary depending on the age of your dog and the breed of your dog. It is considered that the larger and giant breeds of dog, age earlier than the smaller and toy breeds of dog.
Your objective in managing the nutrition of the older small dog is to enhance her quality of life, delay further aging changes, and to extend her life while maintaining her optimal weight. You are also trying to slow down the onset of disease and improve immune function.
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Older small dogs will generally be less active than younger dogs so as a rule will require less energy-dense dog food unless of course the dog’s appetite is reduced for some reason.
Continuing to feed a dog the same amount of food with less exercise will inevitably result in obesity, a problem all too common in many small dogs today. In the old dog, obesity can be a bigger problem than in the young dog as there may also be concurrent arthritis and organ problems which will be made worse. A keen eye is needed to assess the energy needs of your small dog as it ages, so be aware and switch foods if your dog’s weight shows marked changes as it ages.
For the older small dog, a good quality animal protein based on meat, fish eggs, milk or cheese is better than cereal protein. A balance needs to be struck between providing too much protein which may be a problem for dogs with renal failure (a common problem in older dogs), and providing too little.
As aging dogs tend to have less muscle and bone they will have less of a tissue protein reserve and need a certain level of protein in their diet to avoid a negative nitrogen balance. Your holistic veterinarian is the best person to monitor your aging dog’s renal function and advise the appropriate level of protein in her diet.
When your small dog’s protein intake is low due to inappetence, this can be increased by heating the food to increase palatability and to release more aromas; and by feeding smaller more frequent meals and by supplementing with vitamins.
Carbohydrates are mainly provided by cereals and legumes in the diet and these are a cheap source of energy. Care should be taken with the sugar content of some of these foods.
Fats are essential in the diet to provide a vehicle for fat-soluble vitamins and are essential for the health of senior small dogs. However too much may result in obesity, so again moderation is the rule.
Fiber has a role too in the elderly small dog as many are predisposed to constipation. Adding fiber in the form of pumpkin or cooked vegetables two or three times a week will help to keep your elderly small dog regular!
Most dog foods will have more than adequate levels of calcium and phosphorus for the older dog. There may be a case for reduced levels of phosphorus and salt in the diet. Some supplementation of zinc and vitamins may be helpful in the older dog, particularly the vitamin B complex.
Any diet changes should be made slowly to prevent tummy upsets and diarrhea.
Be sure to have plenty of water available for your small dog, particularly if fed a freeze-dried food or kibble, and also if kidney and liver disease is a problem.
Reduced Appetite in Senior Small Dogs
Reduced appetite in older small dogs may be helped by feeding them 2 or more times per day with smaller portions so that they get their full daily requirement. I also highly recommend Bovine Colostrum for older small dogs. It will really boost their immunity and fix any gut problems.
There are many commercial senior dog food diets now available, but I don’t recommend them. Feed only RAW, high-quality food. It will help you to thoroughly examine the different types to increase the lifespan and vitality of your older dog.
Suggestions For Caring For Your Senior Small Dog
Once your small dog becomes older, it is time to take some preventative steps in order for them to remain healthy, happy and active. Have your vet examine your pet annually or more often, if necessary.
As in humans, keep your small dog’s weight within the proper or optimum range. An overweight dog has far more health problems; including joint problems, arthritis, diabetes, and liver or kidney malfunctions. Cut down on the number of treats given to your pup. It is hard to resist their soulful eyes, but always remember that it is for their own good. You do not want to kill your pup by thinking you are being kind to them. Feed your small dog twice a day or smaller amounts 3-4 times a day but remove the food if there is any left. If you have children, explain to them why they should not sneak food to the family dog.
As with dogs or puppies of any age, make sure there is always fresh, cool water available. Some older small dogs have problems getting to the water bowl so either take the water to them or place bowls of water in several different places so they do not have to go far for a drink.
If possible, take your dog for a short walk daily. This helps the dog’s blood circulation and provides some new sights and smells to stimulate them and it gives you quality time to spend with your small dog. He may be older but still curious.
You may need to switch from dry food to a moist or canned food as your dog ages. His teeth may not be able to handle the hardness of dry kibble (another reason to feed RAW for the life of your beloved pooch).
Looking after your senior small dog and taking him to the vet regularly, helps to keep him healthy and happy longer.
Yours in fur kid health! What have you done for your older small dog or large dog?