How to keep your geriatric dog more comfortable | Dr Justine Lee, DACVECC, DABT | Dr. Justine Lee

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Posted by justinelee in Animal Safety, Blog, Pet Health

Thanks to the developments in veterinary medicine, our dog and cat population is living longer and longer! This is due to preventative medicine, good nutrition, anti-arthritis pain medication and improvements in quality of care.

Two of the easiest things you can help your dog or cat live longer?

  1. Prevent obesity
  2. Routine preventative care with your veterinarian

Prevent obesity
A long-term study conducted by Purina found that dogs that were fed less and in good body condition lived on average, 1.4 years LONGER than overweight to obese dogs. And being that 40-60% of pets in the United States are OBESE (meaning they are over 20% of their body weight), this makes me concerned. By simply cutting back on the food and snacks by 25%, you can help your dog and cat live longer. Obesity predisposes pets to diabetes mellitus, worsening osteoarthritis, more strain on the musculoskeletal and neurologic system, pancreatitis, pulmonary problems and more! And most pet owners make the mistake of showing their pet that they “love” them with more snacks – instead, your pet would love more exercise and environmental enrichment! You can read more about the Top 5 ways to make your dog or cat happier and healthier right now HERE.

Image by Gabriela Neumeier from Pixabay 

Routine preventative care with your veterinarian
I’m a big believer that once your dog or cat becomes middle aged (e.g., cats around 9-10 years of age and dogs about 6-8 years of age, depending on the size), it’s best to get a twice-a-year physical examination and skip the vaccines (That is, the DHPP or FVRCP. The rabies vaccine is still a must by state law!). Instead, I want you to splurge on blood work instead – this is a really important way to screen your pet for early chronic aging problems like chronic kidney disease and other medical problems. I do this on my own pets, and believe this is one of the most important things to do as your pet ages.

One of my veterinary sled dog colleagues, a board-certified specialist in veterinary rehabilitation, wrote a book with some tips on how to give your old dog new life. Being that her own husky lived till 14+ years of age, I’d check it out!

You can find the link to the book here:

Tips for Giving Your Old Dog New Life: Creating an Active, Healthy and Happy Dog’s Life

It’s a quick read and a short book, but has some tips on how to do rehab exercises at home, what supplements to consider, and how to work with your veterinarian to help your pet live longer!

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