Most of us wish our pets could live forever. Although the life span of dogs has increased over the years and there are better tools to manage their health, many dog owners still get confused when it comes to senior dogs because of the volume of mis-information out there. Help’EmUp will clear up some of the misconceptions!
- Not much can be done to help a senior dog’s health.
Many dog owners despair that not much can be done if their dog gets sick. There are many remedies now available for arthritis, joint stiffness, toileting accidents, bad breath and decreased appetite, all common problems with senior dogs. For instance, the HelpEmUp harness has been successful in helping senior dogs stay mobile. Medical marijuana is increasing in popularity for arthritis. Newer and better remedies are being developed all the time.
- Senior dogs only need to see a vet once/year.
Unfortunately, older dogs need to go to their vet more often than puppies. Dogs age quickly after puberty – anywhere from four to ten years for every human year depending on their size and breed. Large dogs – like the Newfoundland and St. Bernard — age faster than smaller dogs – like Maltese, Beagles, and Shih tzu. If you see your vet every six months, you have a better chance of preventing or catching any illnesses early.
- Anesthesia is too dangerous for senior dogs.
If senior dogs have any issues with their heart, lungs or kidneys, they should be screened via bloodwork and urine tests. These tests will indicate whether it may be too risky. While anesthesia is a risk at any age, anesthetics have become safer with shorter-acting agents that go away faster. You have to weigh the risks against the outcome. For instance, if your dog needs a blockage removed, you may have no choice but to take him to surgery or he could die.
- Senior pets cost a fortune in medical bills.
As every dog is unique, so too are their health issues. Many dog owners get medical insurance when dogs are puppies to help defray the costs. This is a smart investment and will protect your dog in his senior years. However, think how much money puppies cost in destruction alone!
- Senior pets can’t be trained.
A dog is NEVER to old to be trained. It may require more patience and routine, but senior dogs are more focused than puppies. Pets can be trained at any age, and older pets also come with valuable problem-solving skills gained by experience.
- Senior pets don’t like to play.
I’ve known may senior pets that are still swimming, running and playing fetch. Although it is true that senior pets may slow down, that doesn’t mean they are couch potatoes. Here’s a question to ask yourself: are you sure it’s not you that has stopped playing and having fun? Dogs are very in tune with our moods and if we have stopped playing and having fun, then regardless of their age they will do the same. Dogs can have fun at every age!
- Senior pets don’t like new dogs coming into the household.
It is true that senior dogs get comfortable with routine and may not want a puppy disrupting their lifestyle. However, on the flip side, a puppy or new dog can inject new energy into the life of your senior dog. The key is to research what breed and sex will be most compatible with your senior dog.
- Senior dogs need low protein diets.
The rule of thumb used to be to lower protein intake when dogs get older. However, current research shows that senior dogs may need increased amount of proteins. “Their bodies become less efficient at metabolizing proteins as they age, so increasing the amount and digestibility of proteins is key to supporting them and to prevent muscle wasting.”
When you go to your vet, be sure to ask a lot of questions as he/she is your best source of information. At HelpEmUp, we know there is something special about senior dogs. If you’ve ever had one you will know what I mean!