Older Small Dog Health Care – Part 1
The Geriatric (Older) Small Dog
A small dog will mature and age at much different rates, usually according to size and breed. It is commonly held that dogs live 7 years for every year that man does. However, this serves as only a rough estimate when converting and calculating your small dog’s age as dogs grow up very rapidly in their early years and then slow down.
For example, a 1 year old dog is comparable to a 15 year-old kid; at age 6, he is comparable to 40 years-old in human terms. By 12, it is considered a geriatric dog and is equivalent to an 80 year-old person.
It is generally believed that the smaller the dog breeds, the longer they live. Small breeds such as the Rat Terrier and Miniature Poodle may not slow down until 13 or 14 and could live up to 17 years. On the other hand, larger breeds such as the Great Dane and Wolfhounds rarely live past 9 years.
Caring For An Older (Geriatric) Small Dog
Diet for Older Small Dogs
A healthy diet for the older, small dog should be senior foods that are formulated with low fat and salt for a healthy heart, lower calories to help combat obesity since they are less active, lower protein to help the kidneys and liver, and higher fiber for the bowels to prevent constipation.
A switch to a specially formulated handmade diet for the older small dog will usually perk him up. If you have no clue about your older small dog’s diet, you should consult your holistic vet for advice.
Medical Attention for Older Small Dogs
You’ll probably find that your older small dog needs more medical attention than before because this is the time where age-related problems start to kick in. If possible, try to make more than just an annual visit to your vet. A yearly geriatric screen, including blood and x-rays would also be useful to keep a closer eye on his health.
Patience for Older Dogs
Patience is a key factor on your part when you deal with your beloved dog as he grows older. More often than not, he will develop age-related problems such as tooth decay, periodontal diseases, vision impairment, hearing loss and he will also be less active than before.
In any case, try to give him more time and understanding because they are not in their prime anymore. With enough love and care, older small dogs can still continue their enjoyment of life well into old age.
Take good care of me when I get old. Someday you will be as old as me and you will see how it feels. ~ unknown dog
Taking Extra Precaution With The Older Small Dog’s Diet: A Lesson In Illness
A proper, well-balanced diet is essential, especially for the older small dog. Every degenerative disease your older dog suffers, whether it is a heart problem, arthritis, cancer, kidney failure or cataracts, will in some way, be related to nutritional deficiencies or to poor absorption of nutrients.
Most authorities agree that the older dog needs more vitamin and mineral supplementation, as well as a smaller quantity of higher-quality food (higher biological value). Many of the experts, however, do not properly interpret degenerative symptoms into recognition of substandard nutrition. When your small dog is young, time is on his side, even considering the numerous nutritional errors that were provided to him in his daily menu. Your small dog does not know or care that he is not getting optimum nourishment. However, you, as his owner, need to realize that many of the old dog’s illnesses are preventable through proper nutrition!
⇨ I highly recommend feeding your small dog RAW, nutrient-rich food throughout his life. You will not only cut down on vet bills, but he will live a much healthier, happier life.
Many experts agree that essentially there is only one canine disease; toxemia. By whatever local disease names or manifestations you choose to call it, waste matter is backing up in the cells of the body and causing them to malfunction or to cease functioning. How do our animals get into this shameful condition? The shocking truth is that most often they eat the wrong foods.
The common source of canine illness could lie in putrefaction in the colon. The large intestine (colon) develops rings of fecal waste, much like a tree acquires rings as it advances in age. The rings gradually solidify into impermeable yellow plaster (fecal matter) that becomes quite hard. These layers of fecal plaster impair a very obvious function. The main mode of movement of food from the esophagus to the rectum is peristalsis, the wavelike motion used by the digestive system to push the food from one end of the body to the other.
A small dog’s colon is normally an efficient sewage system for the evacuation of wastes. But we have, in all innocence, turned it into a cesspool of seething putrefaction. Without peristalsis, fecal matter continues to collect in the colon. Without proper elimination, disease-producing bacteria increase in the intestines. With the intestines stuccoed with dried fecal matter, how can good food be absorbed through the walls of the intestines? What is to prevent contamination of good nutrients by putrefactive juices? The flexure that acts to push food from the small to large intestine, is often draped in feces. So it either jams open, or it jams shut; either way, your small dog has trouble.
Muscle Atrophy In The Older Small Dog
The muscles of most aged mammals lose much of their strength and actually decrease in size with each advancing year. This is a normal part of the aging process and is to be expected. However, there are 2 poorly understood muscle disorders, which at first, may look like normal aging weakness.
In one, the small dog develops weakness in the leg muscles during periods of exercise or other physical stress, may fall down briefly, seem to recover, get up for a short time only to fall down again. This is often seen in polymyositis, a disease which causes inflammation of any or all muscles in the body.
Polymyositis occurs mostly in late middle age and early old age. The most common of its several possible causes appearing to be a defect in the dog’s immune mechanism. Treatment with homeopathy or natural remedies is quite successful despite the often alarming appearance of the dog. Occasionally, the muscles of the esophagus are affected, making swallowing difficult, but even these respond.
Muscular dystrophy, the second disorder, occurs mainly in older small dogs and bears some similarity to muscular dystrophy in people. The cause is yet unknown. Affected dogs develop a stiff gait as the muscles become progressively weaker and smaller in size. There is nothing we know of which will stop the deterioration or cure the disease. Treatment is palliative, trying to keep the patient as comfortable as possible, and is based on your small dog’s individual symptoms.
Looking After Your Beloved Pup – Older Small Dogs
The advances in homeopathy, natural medicine and veterinarian competence have significantly improved the life expectancy of pets. And this entails a rather new aspect in canine care – how to care for older small dogs. Since the life expectancy of small dogs is typically 15-20 years, the transition from one life stage to another appears rather rapid to humans. You must recognize the signs of your small dog getting old so that you can provide it the much needed extra care.
As with humans, aging in pets is a gradual process. It entails a gradual deterioration of organs, waning of sensory perception and slowing of energy and strength. However, with a few precautionary measures and adjustments, you can keep your small dog happy in the last years of its life.
Signs of Aging in Your Small Dog
The first signs of aging may appear at different times for different breeds. It also varies from one dog to another. A strong, healthy dog will probably age later than a dog that has constantly suffered from various ailments early in its life. The first sign of aging is a gradual decrease in the activity level, depicting loss of strength and energy. Older small dogs have a tendency to sleep longer than usual and depict a loss of excitement for a long stroll or other fun games and activities.
Hearing impairment and a reduced visual acuity are a result of aging. Skin and coat, which once used to be lustrous and shiny, looks pale and rigid in older small dogs. Oil producing sebaceous glands are weakened. Non-malignant tumors may appear under the skin, which are noticed when you rub your hand through your dog’s skin and fur. The organs in older dogs lose their efficacy and the immune system is unable to ward off bacteria and viruses.
Although aging is an inevitable process, small dog owners can delay its deteriorating effects through discreet canine care. Periodic visits to your holistic veterinarian can help prevent common diseases. Annual checkups for intestinal parasites need be done. A nutritious diet is essential at all stages of a dog’s life. Therefore, you must purchase or make the best dog food available even if your dog has grown old.
Exercise is a must for dogs. Dogs with a protruding belly are more likely to fall ill and suffer the consequences of aging much earlier than a slim and active dog. Therefore, take your dog for a casual stroll and make it do a few exercises. This would help it stay agile and in shape even in the later years of its life.
There are many natural dog products now available that will help your dog, and you, enjoy her senior years.
Health Concerns Commonly Found In Older Small Dogs: Part 3
Yours in fur kid health! What have you done for your older small dog or large dog?