Senior Citizen Dog

by SUDHAKAR NATARAJAN - Date: 2007-03-19 - Word Count: 954 Share This!


The sands of time. Old age. Your dog has finally graduated to being a senior citizen. The reality must have finally dawned on you that his mental and physical capabilities are not the same as it used to be. Your ‘top-dog' is now an ‘old-dog'. S/he has slowed down. Does it mean that the man-dog bond should become the victim to the ravages of time? No! He has seen your children grow. S/he has been a constant companion and a guardian angel to your children. Your dog has shared all the trials and tribulations of life with you. He may have come to you with all knowing brooding eyes and given you a morale boosting lick, when you were down in the dumps. He may have laid his head on your feet and shared your grief. He may have enhanced your happiness by jumping with joy, during your better days. For the better or worse, during pains or gains, he has been an unwavering friend.

Your dog is the only one, whose love is unselfish, with absolutely no strings attached. Even if you are a pauper or a prince, a mendicant or a merchant, his love for you would be the same. Regardless of your social status, your dog will lick your hand with the same love. Pure unselfish love, to the very core. His/her world begins and ends with you. Now, just because he is old, do your want to part ways? I am sure you are no fair-weather friend. You could derive even greater satisfaction, pleasure and happiness by making subtle alterations in the life-style of your dear senior citizen , who has given you his unflinching love and dedicated the best years of his/her life to your family.

Initial signs of FWT( fair wear and tear) are seen in dogs between 8-10 years of age. This is the appropriate age to initiate changes in his life-style. Moderate exercise should be given, fat intake should be reduced and fiber in diet should be increased. Don't expect your dog to perform the same physical tasks as before. It is very necessary to reduce his fat intake to prevent obesity. Obesity means increased load on the cardiovascular and skeletal system that could precipitate CAD(coronary artery disease) and arthritis, not to mention scores of secondary complications and maladies. Increased dietary fiber would facilitate easy evacuation.

Incorporate moderate amounts of garlic and turmeric in the diet of your senior citizen dog. Various research findings have proved that garlic is anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and prevents accumulation of fats and reduces formations of clots in blood vessals. Turmeric has been found to be antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. It has been found to be hepato-protective and increases secretion of bile. Don't worry if your honoured senior citizen wrinkles his nose and walks away when you serve him your culinary preparations. You could accommodate your dogs refined tastes by masking the garlic/turmeric in his favourite dishes like meat/chicken soup etc. sooner or later he will start enjoying the fruits of your kitchen skills.

Avoid giving him white bread, biscuits made out of refined flour, cakes etc. in large amounts as it could cause constipation. You could give him whole-wheat bread, high fiber biscuits instead. Give him plenty of veggies and leafy vegetables. I have seen that some dogs adore raw carrots. If so, you are a blessed owner. Supplement his diet with vitamins and minerals after consulting your vet. Give him plenty of TLC(tender loving care). A happy old-dog means you have a contented close-knit family and your heart is in the right place. I have observed that owners who stand by their old dog also invariably are good sons/daughters to their old parents.

In addition to the normal process of aging, let me discuss specific degenerative conditions in old-dogs, so that owners are aware of such conditions and could have a more proactive relationship with their vet doctor, that would inturn result in an enhanced quality of medical care for their dear dog. Read on carefully.

If your senile dog appears disoriented and forgets his way back, has difficulty in recognizing your friends/neighbours, starts sleeping through out the day(has disrupted sleep/wake cycle), keeps brooding in a corner and no longer demands your attention, shows less enthusiasm on greeting/ cuddling/petting and there is loss of house training or potty training, then all or any of these symptoms may be due to the fact that your dog may be suffering from a neuro-degenerative geriatric disease called as CCDS(Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome). If your old dog shows the above symptoms discuss it with your vet and go for a complete physiological, neurological and laboratory screening to exclude other medical conditions.

Make no mistake. These symptoms, resulting from the deterioration of cognitive ability of your dog, is not a part of the normal process of aging, but is a neuro-degenerative change of the brain, that can surely be combated with modern therapy.

Research has shown that tablet Anipryl (Pfizer) which contains Selegiline hydrochloride , could reduce distressing symptoms of CCDS( canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome)at the dose rate of 0.5 to 1 mg/kg bodyweight, orally, once daily in the morning , initially for about a month. Your vet doctor would know about the various contraindications and fatal drug interactions, therefore your are cautioned not to self medicate your dog.` This information is provided to that you could have a better interaction with your vet, leading to a healthy ,happy and contented life for your loving ‘old-dog'. Happy dog means a happy family.

About the author: The author is the Officer Commanding of National Training Centre for Dogs, BTC,ITBP and has been involved in the canine field for nearly two decades. He has a masters degree in Veterinary Surgery & Radiology from Pantnagar.

Related Tags: pet dog, dr sudhakar natarajan, deputy commandant, itbp


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