Sunday, May 07, 2006

How Should You Look After Your Older Dog?

Aging Dog

Hi all,
Here are somemore tips on taking care of your older dogs.

Q & A: Part 5

Is the surgical risk greater in the older dog?
Usually yes, again depending upon the status of the heart and the kidneys. All of this should be thoroughly checked out before the older dog is anesthetized. The anesthesia provides a greater risk than the surgery. If the dog is competently evaluated before surgery, there should only be a one-percent risk factor of anesthetic death.

During the time when sodium pentobarbital was more widely used for anesthesia, many dogs never woke up because of a condition called acidosis. Over-dosing caused excess absorption of the pentobarbital into the body. Just when you would think the dog was nicely asleep, his fat began to release it, thereby effecting an overdose in the dog. When sodium pentobarbital is in the blood stream, there is no control or reversal. Today, with gas anesthesia, risk is almost zero because of the greater control the vet has.

Do dogs get arthritis as they get older?
Some do. Larger dogs are more prone to arthritis because of hip dysplasia, and because of the proclivity to hip dysplasia, they also get arthritis in the hip joints. But dogs don't have to be old to get arthritis. Small dogs are less prone to arthritis, regardless of their age. The general correlation does not preclude the existence of one condition without the other; however, the two usually do go together.

Do older dogs need more sleep?
They probably rest more, but this indicates a lessening of physical activity rather than excessive sleeping.

Do older dogs eat less?
Growing dogs eat twice as much as those no longer growing, but, once they attain adulthood, they generally stabilize their eating habits. However, a sick dog, no matter what his age, will generally stop eating altogether. Older dogs will tend to eat less.

Can an older dog be hurt by using a metal choke chain to train him, or even just to walk him?
Metal chain collars are prefectly safe as long as the dog is in good physical condition. Nylon choke collars provide an alternative.

How often do dogs get heart attacks?
Dogs don't get heart attacks as they manifest themselves in humans. If a dog gets a heart block, related to an arterial obstruction, he can drop dead but it wouldn't be a heart attack. However, dogs do get strokes, which would indicate an obstruction leading to the brain. Heart attack is not a veterinary term.

What is the most common cause of death in dogs?
Cars kill more dogs than all other causes combined, more than all diseases. Irresponsible dog owners are the real killers, the cars are merely the means of execution. Among diseases, kidney and heart diseases take equal toll, and cancer is a more common cause of death nowadays than heretofore. Let us repeat here what was stated earlier. There must be respect for community leash laws. Dogs should not walk themselves. Always take your dog for his walks, whether to answer a call of nature or just for a stroll, on the leash. We, the dog owners, have that responsibility to our pets; their safety and longevity depend on us.

Ok, we shall continue tomorrow. See ya.

Aging Dog

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