TLC for Older Dogs
This is Begby, Katie our Small Animal Vet’s elderly terrier. In the summer he will be 17 years old! Begby still likes to go for walks: he regularly goes for over an hour but he does have arthritis which means he needs some special care. He is also a little deaf and can get a bit confused at times (a common problem associated with old age), but he is still enjoying life to the full!
Katie’s top tips for managing arthritis in old dogs:
1) Weight Management – make sure they are nice and slim, carrying more weight will put more strain on the joints.
2) Exercise Management – make sure they keep moving and exercising to prevent them getting stiff but not over doing it and making them painful the next day. When on walks make sure they can have regular rest stops and take it at their own pace. Begby can still out-run me but he also likes to take it steady, especially on hard and uneven ground.
3) Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories – these are helpful in reducing inflammation in the joints. Begby is on Loxicom every day but we monitor his kidney function regularly by checking his urine.
4) Hydrotherapy and Physiotherapy – these can both be very helpful in managing arthritis. I massage Begby’s legs to help the muscles that have become stiff and tense. I also use a warm pad to help the muscles relax.
5) Supplements and Extra Pain Relief – there is varying evidence out there about joint supplements. As long as they are for dogs they are safe to use but we are still unsure if they make a difference. Begby is on a joint supplement as well as omega 3 and 6. Extra pain relief can be helpful and necessary if the dog is still sore despite non steroidal anti-inflammatories. Begby is on Amantadine, a human drug for chronic osteoarthritis.
6) Environmental Management – wooden floors, steps and drafts in the house can all aggravate osteoarthritis in dogs. I highly recommend this website for lots of advice on managing a dog with osteoarthritis: www.caninearthritis.co.uk.
7) Insurance – all of this can be costly! Having an insurance policy that you take out when the dog is younger, but that covers them for life, can help with these costs.
Most importantly, please remember to enjoy life with your older dog. Just because they are getting older and can’t go for really long walks doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life with them. They can still enrich your life and you can definitely enrich theirs.
Come and discuss your elderly dogs with our knowledgeable vets and nurses – we are used to and understand managing their complaints and improving their quality of life. We offer free Senior Health Checks for cats and dogs aged over 9, who are otherwise well.
Written by Katie McCreary BVetMed (Hons) MRCVSBack to news