Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Maizie. Growing Old Gracefully

One of the questions I am asked most frequently is about how to take care of an aging dog?

I received this question on Pawbly and thought it might help others so I am sharing it.
Diedra asked,
My dog Maizie is a mix Chocolate Lab Dalmation. She is going to turn 14 in a month. Over the past year she has lost most of her muscle and her back legs look especially thin and wobbly. She has a large living room to live in and is let outside through a door with a very small step. What can I do for her to help her body be as strong and safe? Also, she eats best when her dry food is mixed with a little canned food, is that ok?

Hello Diedra,
Thanks for your question.
Congratulations on all of the things you must have been providing and giving to Maizie to get her to an astounding age of 14! Did you know that most labs and dalmatians only live to about 12? 14 years old is amazing!
There are many things that you can do to help her age gracefully and maintain her strength, stamina, and vigor.
Diet is a great place to start. Ask your veterinarian about which diets they like and recommend for her. I like Science diet J/D. The "J" is for joint. I also like a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement like Dasaquin daily. I have a 16 year old dog and I encourage her to eat by mixing a great dry food with an equally high quality wet food. I make great efforts to keep her eating well, like feeding her twice a day. I have also begun using a dog food gravy to make her food even a tiny bit more exciting. Muscle mass is lost because of two reasons, not enough exercise, and not enough dietary protein.
Most of the older dogs that I see are losing peripheral hind limb muscle mass from chronic dis-use. They aren't getting enough exercise to maintain muscle mass because it hurts too much to move. So after a thorough physical exam I discuss x-rays, and bloodwork and an NSAID. This is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. it helps many dogs feel better and takes away some, or even all, of their pain. At 14 years old I think it is very important to make the remaining days, however many they may be, comfortable. I also think that a thick (about 6 inches), orthopedic bed helps on those bony achey joints.
I recommend twice yearly exams to better monitor and manage the aging process. Blood work, urinalysis, radiographs, and thorough physical examinations will help keep Maizie happy, healthy, and mobile for her days yet to come.
Wishing you and Maizie continued longevity. If you would like to set up a geriatric exam with us we can be reached at Jarrettsville Veterinary Center in Jarrettsville MD.
Diedra replied:
thank you for all the information and great advice!! i would like to set up an exam please.
(In an effort to maintain full disclosure, Diedra is my sister. She lives about three hours away from me, so her dogs only come to visit me for the big items).

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Y'all!

    When I was having some health issues my Human found a wonderful hospital about 2 hours from the mountain house and 4 hours from the shore. It is also in the same town as the ER. Instead of going to our local vets I now get a great long car ride to visit this really nice hospital...though I'm not happy when they shut the door to the exam room!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog