At Manchaca Road Animal Hospital, we consider our canine friends a senior when they turn seven. This is the time when aging of the brain, otherwise known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, can lead to new behaviors.
Symptoms to watch for include:
• Sleep pattern changes
• Wandering, pacing, or circling
• Uncharacteristic house soiling
• Whining or inappropriate barking
• Getting lost in familiar surroundings
• Hearing loss/decreased sight
• Unusual restlessness
• Fearfulness, anxiety (separation & noise phobias)
There is no diagnostic test for “Doggie Dementia” except by autopsy of the brain, so client awareness of their dog’s daily behavior is important. Don’t dismiss a sudden onset of lethargy as normal aging. Keeping on task of watching your dog for any changes increases the chance of living a long, healthy life. Blood and urine testing can help to eliminate the concerns of urinary tract infections, kidney, liver, and thyroid disease. Special testing can be done to evaluate hearing and vision.
Many different medications and supplements have been tried to slow or reverse symptoms of cognitive dysfunction. Antioxidants, nutrient-rich food, vitamin supplements and nutraceuticals can benefit dogs in some cases. A recently developed medication for senior aging changes is called Novifit. This medication helps to increase alertness, regulate sleep cycles, and reduce house soiling. For more information, see their website: www.virbacvet.com/virbac_behavior/product/novifit/
Stiffness while walking and difficulty getting up could be related to osteoarthritis. Diagnosis can be achieved through physical examination and radiographs (x-rays). This can be managed with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, injections of Adequan, and many other medications, supplements and therapy. Often combinations of different types of treatments provide the best management of this disease.
Excessive urination and drinking, weight loss without change in diet and exercise, poor skin and hair coat can be symptoms of diabetes, thyroid or kidney disease. These diseases are diagnosed by blood and urine testing. Special diet, medications, and weight management are methods of managing these diseases, although consistency and routine monitoring by your veterinarian are required to maintain your pet.
These are just a few of many conditions which can become apparent in older dogs besides their normal aging problems. There are several more afflictions like heart disease, liver disease, Cushings disease, and cancer.
Just remember, a good healthy routine for your senior includes:
• paying close attention to your dog’s needs and changes
• taking your pet to the veterinarian for regular examinations
• approving yearly screening though blood and urine testing
• providing age appropriate exercise and nutritious diet
With this formula, you can have your best friend around a very long time.