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Geriatric Dog Care

By: Dr. Douglas Brum

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Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your pet does not improve rapidly.

  • Administer all medications as directed. Alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your pet.

  • Giving your pet a periodic home health exam is an excellent way to monitor for potential problems. Check the teeth and mouth for dental problems and note any foul odors. Feel the skin for any lumps, bumps or discharges. Feel the limbs and joints for swellings or pain. Observe for any swelling in the abdomen. Note any sudden weight gain or loss. Watch for any changes in water consumption or appetite. Changes in your pet's behavior, appearance or attitude should be discussed with your veterinarian.

  • Provide your senior pet with a clean and warm place to sleep, and limit changes in his or her environment. Soft bedding should be provided. Sudden or prolonged changes in temperature should be minimized, as many geriatric dogs are less tolerant of cold or hot weather conditions.

  • Good grooming practices promotes healthy skin and hair coats. Groom your pet regularly.

  • Proper dental care begins at home. Dog's teeth may be brushed at least a few times a week to decrease the incidence of dental disease. Special flavored toothpaste for dogs should be used, as the human products are poorly tolerated.

  • Provide a good quality dog food based on your dog's individual needs. Make sure your pet does not gain or lose too much weight. Avoid table scraps, and try and stick with a consistent diet.

  • Unless directed otherwise by your veterinarian, routine exercise is very important to a geriatric dog. Excessive exercise should be avoided, but a small to moderate (depending on your dog's need) amount is beneficial.

  • Routine blood work may be advised. Re-checking blood tests may aid in following the progression of certain diseases, and any potential treatment changes. Additionally, if your pet is on any medications, blood tests may need to be monitored to make sure there are no potential side-effects.

  • Geriatric dogs should usually have routine veterinary exams at least twice a year. Full diagnostics are usually not required this often, but a check-up is recommended.

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