The Senior Dog

The Senior Dog:

Like people, dogs are individual in the way they age. Certain breeds, mixed breeds, and, in general, smaller dogs tend to live longer. A small dog of less than 20 pounds might not seem to show any signs of age until she is 12 or so. A 50-pound dog won’t seem old until about 10. Larger dogs begin to show their age at 8 or 9.

With the right care, it’s not uncommon for dogs to live to 14 or 15 these days. Using established guidelines to determine when your dog might qualify as a senior will help you to understand changes in behavior or to anticipate a change in health status. On the basis of your knowledge, you will be better able to identify and approach health problems at an early stage, when they may be more easily treated. Following is a table to give you an idea of the relationship between a dog’s age and a human’s. Note that the weight of the dog is related to his age in human years:

A Dog’s Age in Human Years

Age

Up to 20 lbs

21-50 lbs

51-90 lbs

Over 90 lbs

5

36

37

40

42

6

40

42

45

49

7

44

47

50

56

8

48

51

55

64

9

52

56

61

71

10

56

60

66

78

11

60

65

72

86

12

64

69

77

93

13

68

74

82

101

14

72

78

88

108

15

76

83

93

115

16

80

87

99

123

17

84

92

104

Red numbers =
senior
Blue numbers =
geriatric

18

88

96

109

19

92

101

115

20

96

105

120

Chart developed by Dr. Fred L. Metzger, DVM, State College, PA. Courtesy of Pfizer Animal Health.

 

Exercise for Older Dogs


Exercise is as essential to dogs as it is to humans. It is profoundly tied to a dog’s physical, mental, and emotional health. A sedentary dog is a bored dog, often an overweight dog, and, in general, a less-than-optimally-healthy dog. In older dogs, obesity is the most common condition that vets see, and lack of exercise is a critical component of it.

As dogs age, they still need their exercise to benefit their heart, lungs, circulation, digestive system, and joints — as well as to fight obesity. Compared with younger dogs, however, older dogs need to adjust the type and duration of the exercise they do.

Every dog is different in the way he or she ages and the exercise he or she can handle. You really need to be very observant in assessing your particular dog’s abilities, natural inclinations, and current state of health. Keep alert to your dog’s being excessively out of breath, or to a drooping head and tail. If your dog coughs or does not get her breath back after five minutes of rest following exercise, have the vet check her heart. In fact, if your dog is over 7 and has not had a check-up including a geriatric screening for more than six months and she has not been exercising regularly, get the check-up before beginning an exercise program.

Keep in mind that in general smaller dogs — even younger ones — aren’t meant for distance running (therefore, it’s not a good idea to take a small dog jogging with you). And, if your dog is a larger dog, even if she enjoys running, she may be prone to hip dysplasia and arthritis, which probably means no running after a certain age.

Other basics to keep in mind: It’s best to exercise your dog before he eats and to wait about half an hour after the exercise session before giving a meal. Keep your dog out of the sun, and, on a hot day, it’s probably best not to exercise outdoors at all. Very cold, wet days are also times when indoor exercise is more appropriate.

If your dog has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, check with your vet for recommendations on an exercise program. Usually walking and swimming are the best activities. For walking, use a leash so that you can control the duration and strenuousness of the exercise.

Two shorter walks will be less stressful on aging joints than one long walk. The walks can be quite brisk, provided the vet has given approval. A brisk walk should have four components:

  • a warm-up of about 5 minutes, gradually increasing the pace
  • brisk walking of about 20 minutes
  • a cool-down of about 5 minutes, during which you gradually decrease the pace
  • a drink of water.

If you play fetch with your older dog, throw the ball or toy a little closer than you did when your dog was younger, and repeat the toss fewer times. After a point, it is probably advisable to stop playing fetch and to concentrate on walking or swimming.

When swimming, remember that an older dog will tend to become chilled much more quickly than a young dog. Take big towels along, and use them to dry off your dog as soon as he gets out of the water — and preferably before he begins shivering.

At-home exercise is also a good alternative for older dogs. Use a carpeted area for the session, and one of your dog’s favorite toys. You can play a modified game of “fetch” in a relatively small area. You might also want to play a game that involves your dog doing “roll-overs” or lying on her back to “kick the air.” “Wrestling” and “keep away” are two other good games to play with your dog. The idea is to keep her active and moving in a physically non-stressful way. Use your imagination to invent other at-home games.

Splints and braces for dogs can also aid in the exercise program.    OrthoVet offers a full line of splinting and bracing for the Senior Pet.  These supportive devices can add comfort and support to weak or unstable joint spaces, allowing the dog to be back “on the move”!  Contact OrthoVet directly at www.orthovet.com or give us a call toll free, 866-207-9205.

 

Pets At Risk For Joint Disease.

“Porky Pets”

 At risk for joint disease.

Fat-Cat

If you find the photo above adorable, you’re not alone. We all love to see our pets fat and sassy. However, we may not be seeing the risks that are associated with being so cute.

The nation’s obesity epidemic reaches far beyond adults and children to our pets, who share our homes, eating habits, and lack of exercise. 

Röntgenbild Hundepfote

Recent studies from Tufts University suggest that up to 50% of dogs and cats are obese or overweight.

While most cats and dogs don’t develop the life-threatening conditions, like cardiovascular disease that are associated with obesity in humans, being overweight can affect animals in other ways. The extra weight can wreak havoc on their joints and complicate other health problems.

Degenerative Joint disease (DJD) in our overweight pet population is common. DJD is the long term decrease in cartilage around the joint spaces.  Over time this will cause the animal to have a decrease in activity, sudden lameness, and stiff gaits that worsen with exercise.

Golden retriever dog

The use of splints or braces is widely utilized to support the joints affected by DJD.

OrthoVet carries a full line of splints to get your pet back up and running to shed those unwanted pounds.

Call us today at 866.207.9205 or send an email to contactus@orthvet.com to learn about our full line of dog and cat splints.

Cash’s Story

Cash's Story

At 4.5 months old “Cash’s” owner Vickie became concerned that his front legs where not looking normal.  Cash seemed to feel fine and the local Vet thought he would grow out of the issue.  Vickie was not convinced and went searching for answers on the web.  There she found the Great Dane Lady and OrthoVet, LLC.  Vickie opted for a supportive set of splints and a change of diet to hopefully help Cash.  This seemed to help for a short time but Cash kept growing out of the splints which caused problems with pressure sores.  At that time OrthoVet referred Vickie to a Veterinary PT & Rehab Therapist.  At 5.5 months old he was diagnosed with HOD.  (Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy) is a bone disease that usually affects young, rapidly growing large breed dogs.  Cash was put on a strict diet and a therapy schedule to try and slow down the joint calcification.  Unfortunately they could not slow the bone growth down and Cash had his first surgery at 7 months old.

They removed part of his Ulna because the Ulna growth plate closed while the long bone growth plate was open.  This caused the long bone to “bow” over the Ulna.  Cash had to have surgery on both limbs.  OrthoVet fabricated custom splints to help support his legs during the rehab. process.  The splints were modified after about 2 weeks to allow more function.

Cash's Story

When Cash was 1 year and 2 months old Vickie had the Orthopedic surgeon do a correction on each front limbs (one limb at a time).  This was done to completely stabilize the joint spaces.  Since Cash is a Dane and weighs over 130 lbs. Vickie felt like this was necessary.

The below photo shows Cash after all of his surgeries. It has been a long process for this big dog but now Cash enjoys a normal active life.

If you would like a complete and detailed version of Cash’s story or more on HOD please contact us at www.orthovet.com

Cash's Story