Here is what I want to emphasise, my buddy. You probably know six health behaviours for your dog that you should be doing, but you often neglect them when life gets hectic. I’ve based this list on my own patients’ and clients’ real-life experiences, and I hope all senior dog owners will take it to heart.
It’s common for a loved one to utter, “I know you understand this, but…” It might be exactly what you require to hear once you hear “but” after that. In the rush of daily life, it’s simple to forget about the things you know you should be doing, such as caring for your loving senior dog. Dr. Buzby, the integrative veterinarian and founder of Dr. Buzby’s ToeGrips®, gently but firmly reminds us of six health behaviours that you can’t ignore if you want your senior dog to lead a happy and healthy life.
My husband and I used to enjoy going to the gym together before these strange times of social isolation. He would go to the weights, and I would use an elliptical machine and work up a sweat to Rizzoli & Isles reruns.
One day, I happened to run into Mr. Singh at the gym. He’s a wonderful man who has experienced a lot of things in life and is always happy to tell me about one of them. I enjoy hearing his stories.
I was surprised and a little irritated when Mr. Singh sauntered over to say hello after spotting me on the elliptical. What I expected was a normal greeting, such as “Hi, Julie!” or “How are the kids?” or “Where have you been?”
Instead of saying, “You’re putting on some weight,” he said, “It looks like you’re putting on some weight.”
Are you serious?
“I have,” I admitted, blushing.
“What was the problem?” he enquired (as if there had been some sort of mishap).
My family and I were hit with a stomach bug, so I didn’t exercise like normal. Additionally, the holidays were particularly nice to me, so I couldn’t wrap my brain around the fact that we were having this conversation.
“You have a little extra padding on your cheeks,” Mr. Singh said without flinching, gesturing vaguely to his own face.
I now know why Mr. Singh is a bachelor, but I also understand that his comments were not spiteful. He was saying what he thought. Sometimes, the truth hurts.
Concerned about her, he corroborated his motivation by saying, “Let me assist you.”
Rather than exercising on the elliptical for sixty somewhat leisurely minutes, he asked me to do interval training right then and there. He motivated me to push myself in a way I had never done before. He began to discuss my diet as I panted for breath after we finished.
“I don’t eat a lot of bread, cookies, and cakes,” I said. “You can’t have that either,” she replied. “You can’t have bread!” My reply was a little more vehement, “I know what I’m talking about.”
“Sure, you know it,” he said. “You just need a refresher.”
This is what this is all about, my friend. I want to remind you of six health habits you know your dog should be following but that you sometimes neglect when life becomes hectic. Here is a list compiled from real-world experiences with my patients and clients, one that all senior dog owners should pay heed to.
Senior dogs need to adopt these 6 health habits.
Your dog must be on heartworm prevention all year round.
I am heartbroken when a dog tests positive for heartworm disease. It really should not happen. Prevention is simple and inexpensive. Treatment, on the other hand, is difficult, costly, and painful for the dog.
Last year, seven dogs in my practice tested positive for heartworm. These dogs weren’t derelict animals rescued from the streets or hurricane disaster areas. Rather, these dogs were owned by responsible owners who either forgot to administer heartworm prevention or decided not to administer it year-round (i.e., skipped it during the winter).
Sometimes the pet parent said, “I employed a organic home cure so I didn’t provide the preventative.” As a licensed veterinary acupuncture expert, I have numerous clients utilizing herbs, supplements, and alternative veterinary medicine, but heartworm prevention is not a place to be imaginative.
With regard to healthcare choices, I urge my patients to weigh the advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to heartworm prevention, the choice is simple. The risks of not using a heartworm preventive every month substantially outweigh the benefits. Additionally, because most of the products on the market contain dewormer to shield against internal parasites, you have another justification for why heartworm prevention is important.
My dogs really like Heartgard Plus. It’s been around for a long time, it’s effective, and it’s safe. You should, however, speak with your veterinarian to find out which product is right for your dog.
It is crucial to keep your dog on heartworm prevention throughout the year. There are no exceptions.
You need to brush your dog’s teeth every day.
The most effective method to prevent canine dental disease is to use a doggy toothbrush. Daily brushing is the key. You can have a significant impact by doing so. brushing your dog’s teeth is simple. Don’t worry; it’s much easier than you think!
The truth is that once they’ve formed a good dental cleaning habit, dogs often come and ask to have their teeth brushed. Yes, I’m serious,’’ clients usually say to me. It’s a win-win for everybody. You and your dog will both benefit as you get a chance to bond while accomplishing something significant for his health.
You don’t have to go through it alone; there is a little bit of learning you have to do. This post, Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?, provides a comprehensive overview of canine dental care and explains how to encourage dogs to cooperate for dental care. My pal, who brushes his canine’s teeth daily, wrote it.
Taking care of your dog’s teeth can save you money in the long run, because it might prevent or delay periodontal disease and thus decrease the frequency and severity of the veterinary dental care your dog needs.
Brush your dog’s teeth every day to keep them healthy.
Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is your responsibility.
Being a lean, mean canine machine is up to you, and Mr. Singh cannot come over for doggy interval training (although I am sure he would be up for it). I can encourage you to be your dog’s “personal trainer.”
You must take charge and take responsibility for your dog’s weight.
Why am I so passionate about this…
A long time ago, researchers studied Labrador littermates to discover whether keeping dogs lean versus chubby would influence their longevity and health. The results indicated that the leaner dogs lived about two years longer than their chubby counterparts and also enjoyed a longer period of good health before developing chronic diseases in old age. The dogs were healthier overall, and the only difference between the groups was their weight.
Having a lean and fit dog might give you two extra years of life to spend with your dog and a healthier dog during that time, if you just play the odds.
It’s not as simple as looking at the scale to determine if your dog is at a healthy weight, but I can help you with that. You must compare your dog’s current canine body condition score to what is ideal.
It’s also important to speak with your veterinarian. Your vet may offer you with some excellent resources, such as a printout of your dog’s weight history (as recorded at previous veterinarian visits.) Hanging this on the fridge might be motivating! Additionally, your veterinarian can tell you how many calories your dog should consume each day to ensure you don’t accidentally overfeed.
It is up to you to keep your dog at a healthy weight.
Your dog must be leashed when riding in a car.
Recently, I have heard a lot of stories about dogs getting hurt in car accidents. My colleague described how a dog jumped from the back seat into the dashboard, damaging the poor creature’s neck.
A dog who was severely injured in a car crash had to be euthanized after he broke his back because he was not properly restrained in the vehicle.
A dog should be safely fastened in a vehicle if he or she is accompanying you on a drive.
There’s more to this warning than simply ensuring your dog is safe. I’m also concerned about your safety! Dogs that are allowed to move freely inside the vehicle can distract drivers and cause accidents. According to an AAA survey, 65 percent of respondents admitted to participating in at least one distracting behaviour while driving with their dog:
It’s simple to scoff at the woman applying mascara while driving down the highway, but these actions are just as severe—so severe, in fact, that several states have passed laws requiring dogs to be secured in a moving vehicle. Violators may be fined up to $1000.
My 6-pound companion, Eleanor, recently sent me this story.
“The RV’s shoulder strap and seat belt securely lock her car seat and travel harness. This design positions her so she can see out while also providing ‘walls’ that surround and protect her. Fortunately, the airbag does not go off when Eleanor and her car seat are weighed together. Therefore, she can ride shotgun in our RV.”
Whenever you take your dog out for a walk, make sure he or she is properly leashed.
Learning the subtle signs that your dog is in pain is vitally important.
It’s always taken me aback when well-meaning dog owners tell me their dog can’t be in pain because they haven’t whimpered or cried out. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is important to remember that just because your dog isn’t crying or whining, that doesn’t mean he or she isn’t in pain.
Most dogs do not moan, whine, and cry to express their discomfort. I refer to those who do as my Spartan dogs.
There are many dogs that make me think, “Wow, I can tell how much pain you’re in, and yet you seem calm and accepting. You’re handling your life’s hardships with grace and dignity.”
When I see dogs suffering silently, my heart melts. At the same time, I am happy to know that I can help improve the dog’s quality of life and treat his pain.
Your connection with your canine companion makes you an important player in identifying discomfort. You can spot issues by observing your dog’s habits. It is important to note any alterations in:
Please read 7 Signs Your Dog is in Pain for more telltale signs.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary with your dog, even if it seems minor, please contact your veterinarian. These gentle souls who cannot speak for themselves require our utmost care, and we should always err on the side of caution.
Be observant and proactive as your dog’s healthcare advocate when it comes to pain, especially.
Your dog must have his toe nails regularly trimmed.
Most domestic dogs (our pets) live on hard-surface floors and rarely get sufficient exercise. Obesity, behavioral problems, and long toenails are common outcomes of this lifestyle.
Long nails have more serious consequences than just looking bad. They alter the way a dog’s paws interact with the ground, negatively influencing both posture and stride. In effect, it’s like a human walking in oversized clown shoes when a dog has long toenails.
Long toenails make it impossible for a dog to stand with his legs straight. As a result, he compensates for the long nails by standing and moving in a different way. This predisposes him to injury as well.
Taking a “history” when I meet a new patient with long toenails, I frequently begin with a simple and pain-free nail trim. This instantly improves the dog’s posture so that I can concentrate on deeper, root issues when doing my gaiting and musculoskeletal exams.
It makes me happy and proud to see that some of my clients are willing to continue to trim their dog’s nails themselves after our initial visit (some, on the other hand, ask me to do it for them). If you want to learn how to trim your dog’s nails at home, you can consult my ebook: How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails Without Blood, Sweat, or Tears.
Having your dog’s nails trimmed frequently and consistently is vitally important to your dog’s wellbeing, and yet it is frequently overlooked.
A gentle reminder to remember and act.
That evening in the gym, Mr. Singh’s honest feedback inspired me to share these six crucial health habits with you. I hope to help you help your dog live his best life now (and for as long as possible!). I don’t want to ‘lecture’ or give you more ‘to-dos,’ but rather assist you in doing so. You can do it, and I’ll be here to assist you every step of the way.
Are there any proactive ways that you care for your senior dog?
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