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October 30, 2013

Taking Care of Our Aging Pets

Our aging pets... They may not be as fast as they used to be, their eyes may not be as clear as they used to be - but they are still the same little puppy or kitten (or iguana) that they were when we found eachother. It's always hard to think time has passed by so much, that they are considered a senior... We've got their Vet on speed dial, so here are some indicators of age, and things to look out for, in our senior companions: 1. Arthritis Is it Arthritis?  It could be lumbosacral instability.  The bigger the animal, the more likely arthritis will develop.  While symptoms can vary depending on age and breed, it's important to not rule out other muscle and joint ailments. Dragging real heals is sometimes a sign of arthritis, but it could also just be lumbosacral instability - when an animal fails to realize their rear feet are not in proportion.  Lumbosacral instability occurs at the point where the vertebral column, the "backbone," joins the pelvis via a fused set of vertebrae called the sacrum. In dogs, especially older big dogs, this joint can become unstable over time leading to arthritis and the secondary changes associated with it. It is these changes resulting from instability that can partially and even completely, in some cases, block nerve communication from the rear limbs to the brain and back. In cases of complete blockage, paralysis occurs. For more information - http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/30/3720306/pet-vet-aging-pets-face-common.html
2. Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia, and Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Alzheimer's, or Dementia is more common in dogs.  Technically called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, the symptoms are more silent than with people - making it harder to diagnose and see as an immediate problem. Some possible signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction:
  • Dog becomes lost in familiar places in the home or backyard
  • Becoming trapped behind familiar furniture or in room corners
  • Does not respond to name or familiar commands
  • Withdrawn behavior that is out of character
  • Frequently trembles or shakes
  • Seeks less and less of your attention
  • Is hesitant to take treats, drink fresh water, or eat fresh food
Treating cognitive problems in dogs is possible.  Treats that promote "composure", along with anti-anxiety medication prescribed by your Vet can help improvements be made. The most important treatment in the fight against aging in your pets is a regular check up at the Vet...and lots of love!
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