A dog is considered to be a senior when they reach the age of seven to 10 years old. Smaller breeds tend to become seniors much later than larger breeds. For example, Great Danes are considered to be seniors by the time they are approximately 5 to 6 years of age,
whereas a Chihuahua would only be considered middle age by that time. However, aspects such as the environment, nutrition as well as genetics have a significant role to play in how fast a dog will age.
Some Changes That Come With Age
With age, there are many different changes that can take place in your dog such as:
Helping Your Dog Manage Their Ageing Process
While most of these changes can be very gradual, aging is something that cannot be reversed. However, it is possible to slow this process by following a good health management plan. Some things that can prove to be beneficial include:
How to Improve Balance and Muscle Tone in Senior Dogs
When a dog ages it becomes less active. They begin to lose their ability to balance themselves well. This typically occurs due to muscle loss which in turn leads to further inactivity. When a dog is inactive it causes the body to slow down, age faster, making them more prone to injury. There are certain therapies as well as anti-aging activities that can help your dog remain more active in their senior years such as:
Common Conditions that Senior Dogs Suffer From
As dog’s age there is deterioration in the joint function and arthritis becomes a very common problem. It is important to control your dog’s weight and have an exercise plan that will help alleviate the symptoms. Maintain consistency in daily exercise because sporadic, strenuous activity can stress and strain your dog’s joints.
It’s far better to exercise him multiple times during the day, but for shorter spans of time. Do not take your dog out on days when he/she is lame or stiff. It’s crucial that you provide your dog very good bedding. Orthopedic bedding is also available for senior dogs in many pet stores. Ramps are very useful over steps and to help your dog get into the car comfortably.
Treatments such as hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, and massage will surely help.
2. Dental Disease
This is another common condition in aging dogs. This makes it important that dogs be taken to the vet for regular checkups. Canine toothbrushes, treats and chew toys will also help maintain dental health in senior dogs.
Is more commonly seen in elderly female dogs but can also been seen in male dogs. Incontinence can be caused by infection, neurological issues, spinal problems, hormonal imbalance or senility as well. Older dogs tend to forget all their toilet training and are likely to wet the area they are lying in. In most cases, a certain amount of medication would have to be given on a daily basis to treat incontinence.
4. CDS (Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome)
Many dogs experience Alzheimer’s or dementia symptoms. This condition is referred to as CDS and the common signs of it include:
The progression of CDS can be snail-paced. Keeping your dog active and mentally stimulated is one of the best ways to slow down the progress of this condition. In some cases, antioxidants can help the condition.
While these are quite common in older dogs, it’s important to make sure that your dog actually has cataracts. It’s likely that he is suffering from a condition called lenticular sclerosis, which tends to be more common in senior dogs. This condition causes the eye tissue to become rigid over a period of time and the eyes develop a grayish-blue tint. Lenticular sclerosis doesn’t compromise the dog’s eyesight seriously and no treatment is necessary.
If the dog has a cataract, it can result in cloudiness or opacity in the eyes and the condition can impact their vision eventually. Most owners don’t notice the cataract in their dog’s eyes until it has covered almost 60 percent of the eye. Cataracts are often accompanied by illnesses such as hypothyroidism and diabetes. It is possible to remove cataracts via surgery.
The Benefits of Herbal Treatments in Senior Dogs
Older dogs can benefit significantly from herbal treatments that may be used externally as well as internally. Herbs are packed with minerals and vitamins and provide good support to the natural healing mechanisms in your dog’s body. There are a number of different herbs that can maintain your pet’s overall well-being and keep them healthier in their old age. Herbs can prove to be very effective when used in conjunction with the right amount of exercise, a balanced and nutritious diet, and sufficient sunlight.
Balanced Nutrition Matters
Since older dogs have low activity levels their metabolism is slower. This means, their body requires fewer calories. However, it is important to ensure that your senior dog gets the right amount of easy-to-digest, high-quality protein content in her food. Typically a balanced diet for your senior dog would include:
Low-fat, high-quality, concentrated protein.
Carbohydrates that are easier to digest- these will provide her energy.
Various minerals to support arthritic or stiff joints.
In addition to the protein content in the diet, vitamins can help effectively fight infections that are brought on due to a decline in the immune system.
While it’s a good idea to feed your dog at least a couple of times a day, you may find that they prefer to eat smaller portions, multiple times a day. This is a very normal eating pattern in senior dogs, as their system is able to digest smaller quantities of food much better than larger portions.
K9 SWiM Hydrotherapy and Wellness Centre for all dogs young and old
Even if your dog is aging, you will find that they will crave some level of socialisation and will enjoy an outing. At our centre, we offer herbal, photonic treatments and massages that help with mobility and overall wellbeing. K9 SWiM has a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy centre, where we offer gentle hydrotherapy sessions for senior dogs.
Contact us today to find out how we can help your golden oldie and give them a good quality of life in their senior years.
Watch out for our Senior Happy Hour Classes coming up in the warmer months!
With winter right around the corner, the cold weather can aggravate arthritis-related aches and pains in dogs. Since they stay in heated indoor areas, drink insufficient water and don’t get enough sunshine, it can result in dryness of the skin and affect the condition of their coats too.
In addition, they may become more susceptible to bacteria and viruses; which makes it even more important to help them build their immunity levels. One of the simplest things to do is to create a small garden where you can grow some herbs that will be beneficial to the health of your dog. You can add herbs to your pet’s meals; this will help them greatly with mobility issues, improve their overall wellbeing and the flavour of their meals as well.
Some indoor herbs to grow during the winter months
1. Lemon Balm
How to add these herbs to your dog’s winter meals
Many pet parents wonder whether their dogs will actually take these herbs happily. Most herbs have a distinctive aroma and taste that some dogs may not find very palatable. The one way to ensure your dog consumes these beneficial herbs is to cleverly incorporate them into their meals. Here are some ideas to get you started:
How K9 SWiM can help
If you are unable to grow fresh herbs or source them easily, simply use the dried variants. Our K9 SWiM Hydrotherapy and Wellness Centre also has a well-stocked herbal section, where you can source dried culinary/medicinal herbs in quantities even as little as 50g in weight. Feel free to contact us to make an appointment to discuss as we can create some tailor-made herbal blends to complement the requirements of your pet.
Arthritis is derived from artho (joint) and it itis (inflammation), both of which are Greek words. It is estimated that about 30% of Australian dogs are affected by this condition in some form or the other. Your dog may be diagnosed with DJD (Degenerative joint disease) or OA (osteoarthritis).
Factors that can contribute to arthritis in dogs
Arthritis is generally caused by instability of the joints as well as regular wear and tear. However, there are a number of other factors that contribute to this condition such as:
Understanding what arthritis is
The joints that are most commonly affected include the elbows, shoulders, knees, and hips. All joints in the body have a smooth cartilage cover which allows the free movement of adjoining bones with the assistance of Synovial fluid (lubricating liquid). The cartilage and also offers a cushioning effect to the bones.
In dogs that suffer from arthritis, there is deterioration of the cartilage covering the joints and the lubricating fluid loses its efficacy. These conditions cause the bones to become rough and they begin to rub against each other. The movements result in a significant amount of discomfort and cause even more damage to the cartilage.
Arthritis- the sign to look out for
Most dogs are quite resilient and the signs of discomfort or pain may not be evident right away. However, the common symptoms to look out for include:
Next steps to take
If you have noticed any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet for a thorough check-up. X-rays and a comprehensive physical examination will determine if your pet has arthritis. While it is normal for you to feel dejected, there is hope. Arthritis can be managed and controlled effectively in a number of ways.
Helping your dog manage arthritis
1. Managing the pain
At the outset, your vet would prescribe some pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication. These help in alleviating discomfort, inflammation, and swelling. There are a number of highly potent herbal remedies that can help reduce the pain and inflammation as well.
2. Focusing on the right diet
There are certain foods that can help fight inflammation and these can help manage your dog’s condition. Some of the dietary changes you can make include:
Your vet may prescribe nutraceuticals. These supplements that help provide some relief to dogs with arthritis. They help with symptoms such as inflammation and improve mobility. Some of the effective supplements include Green-lipped mussels, Joint strong, K9 Power, Techneyflex and Tuffrock Joint Formula.
This is a very important aspect in the treatment of arthritic dogs. You need to keep your pet exercising, taking care that their muscles aren’t stressed too much. With this in view, hydrotherapy becomes an excellent exercise option because it:
5. Weight Management
If your dog is arthritic, it’s very important to ensure he or she has a normal weight. The heavier your dog the more load and strain on the joints. This results in pain, discomfort and more inflammation and speeds up the progress of arthritis even further. If you want to successfully manage arthritis in your dog, weight reduction is something you need to focus on.
6. Massage or physical therapies
Visiting a massage therapist, physiotherapist or canine osteopath can benefit your dog. Massages are a good way of increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the affected areas. In addition, these massage and physiotherapy sessions can help improve muscle tone, joint flexibility, and range of motion too. Some of the other alternative therapies that have proven to be effective in providing relief in arthritis are hot and cold therapy, photonic therapy and acupuncture.
7. Toe Grips and harnesses
If your dog is slipping on smooth floors or floorboards, you can give provide some traction. Toe grips are a good solution as they help your pet place their feet correctly on the floor and get a firmer grip. You will find a number of well-designed harnesses that can help your dog get into the car or walk up & down stairs, without you having to do any heavy lifting.
8. Home aids and home improvements
You can use a supportive orthopaedic memory foam bed for your arthritic dog. This type of bed provides good support and comfort. Your dog will feel more rested and will be able to get in and out of bed easily. You can get movable ramps for helping your pet get in and out of the car or even to climb up and down stairs. This will save you some effort and help reduce the stress on your dog’s muscles and joints.
9. Portable doggie stairs
These aids are great for smaller dogs that prefer sitting on a couch or lounge when you are watching your favorite show on television. This little staircase is the perfect alternative to them jumping up to sit beside you.
10. Heat pads
These are a great option for older dogs during the colder months. You can place the heat pads under their mattress. The heat radiated provides some comfort to their joints during cold nights.
Now it's up to you
As you can see, there are a number of things that can be done to manage arthritis in your dog. And it isn’t as difficult or challenging as it is made out to be. If the vet has diagnosed that your dog has arthritis, you would have to make some conscious changes to his or her lifestyle at the outset. This will take some adjusting in the initial stages, but your dog will eventually get used to it over time and it will become a normal part of their daily routine.
Never miss out on scheduled visits to your therapist or vet. Include some mobility supplements and aids to help them move around more comfortably. Watch your dog’s weight and ensure they get regular exercises or swimming sessions. Most dogs simply love the latter and look forward to their weekly swims and hydrotherapy sessions.
Contact the experts
We at K9 Swim Hydrotherapy and Wellness Centre have a number of products in stock such as:
Not only will this help your pet maintain mobility, but will keep their body weight in check too. Richmond Tafe offers excellent massage courses; these courses give you the opportunity to learn the different types of techniques you can use to massage your dog; this goes a long way in managing arthritic conditions.
For more information about our hydrotherapy and other services, feel free to browse our website.
Herbal treatments for your pets can have significant benefits provided they are used in the right form. It’s best to consult an animal herbalist or naturopath when starting your pet on any herbal treatments as these professionals have a good understanding of herbs and can recommend which ones would be suitable for your animal.
Your pet’s digestive system is able to absorb tinctures or strong herbal teas very well and it’s best to give these at frequent intervals through the day, rather than a single large dose, as it helps boost the immune system and speeds up the healing process.
Aspects to consider
You can add dried herbal mixes and powders to your pets’ food which will have a slower response but is the ideal way for maintenance. It’s also the best solution for those fussy four legged babies that don’t like taking medication. The factors that you have to take into consideration include your pet’s:
Herbs should be used in a holistic manner and the medical condition and its origin should be taken into consideration before starting any particular treatment. The body has the ability to heal itself and once the root cause of the problem has been established, herbs can be used to support the body to rebalance itself.
What can herbal medications be used for?
Herbal treatments can be used externally as well as internally for various conditions such as:
The right diet for your pet matters
Along with the herbal treatment, you also need to make sure your pet is getting a natural, well-balanced and nourishing diet. Even when you give your pet any packaged foods, buy ones of a good brand as these will have the right ingredients and nutritional balance.
If you alter your pet’s diet, do so gradually; this gives their digestive system the time to adjust to the new foods and you are able to monitor whether its ingredients agree with your pet. Opt for products that don’t have any colourings and preservatives (as far as possible), and be on the lookout for allergic reactions to new foods.
Herbs are packed with minerals and vitamins which help improve overall health and wellbeing. They can also help increase your pet’s lifespan as they keep them healthy; so you can safely give your pet herbs even when it doesn’t suffer from any specific medical condition.
As a qualified Animal Herbalist and Naturopath I am always happy to discuss what will be best for your dog. You can book a consultation for your dog with me at the K9 SWiM Hydrotherapy and Wellness Centre.
Also the K9 SWiM Hydrotherapy and Wellness Centre is now selling herbs and herbal mixes for all kinds of conditions for your pets and horses. Drop buy and get your healthy supplies for your pets.
Turmeric is a great herb for so many reasons. Curcumin, the principle active component in turmeric, is a potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent which helps with arthritis, pain, skin conditions, blood issues and is used for cancer and doggie dementia. It is a powerful antioxidant and can help protect the liver against toxins.
Refrigeration will last 1 month
Frozen will last 3 months
Dosage: ¼ teaspoon for a small dog and up to 1 teaspoon a day for a large dog.
Mix in food. Always introduce new food and supplements slowly over a 5-7-day period.
Check with your vet or animal naturopath before feeding if your dog is currently on any medication, before surgery or pregnant.
It is that time of the year again when fleas are out and about and on the increase Fleas can cause terrible distress in our dogs, causing itching, irritation or infections.
There are many natural therapies that can help deter fleas on your pets. This month
K9 SWiM would like to share a natural flea repellent spray that you can easily make yourself at home with a few simple ingredients. This will help deter fleas and other parasites with the added bonus that your dog will also smell great. The best thing about using natural ingredients is that you won’t have to worry about what chemicals your dog is licking off their coat.
Natural Flea Repellent Spray for Dogs with Wormwood, Rosemary and Lavender
This is a lovely spray to use on your pet and its bedding to deter fleas and other parasites.
Add herbs to the saucepan of water and slowly bring to the just on boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
Cool, strain and put into a spray bottle and spray away! Keep refrigerated and this will last you for a couple of weeks.
Alternatively dry some wormwood, rosemary and lavender and when ready mix the 3 herbs together and place in a little cotton bag and place in your pets bedding, it not only adds a lovely scent to their beds but deters all those little nasties!!!
Check Your Dog for Fleas and Other Parasites Daily
It is good to check your pet daily for any fleas and parasites Finding ticks and removing them early can save their lives.
The best flea control is flea prevention.
Have you ever had an itch that you can’t scratch? We all feel for our dogs when we see them scratching, scratching and scratching trying to soothe their itch! An Oatmeal Rinse is a great natural home remedy that you can make yourself, that will relieve and soothe your dog’s itch. Before we give you the recipe lets go through why your dog may be itching and two of the most common causes being fleas and wondering dew and what your can do for these two causes.
Why Dog's Itch?
Dogs itch for many different reasons such as
Fleas On Dogs
As fleas are the most common reason for dogs itching it is best to ensure your dog is free from fleas before you take your dog to the vet to determine the cause of the itching.
We don’t always see the fleas on our pets so the best way to check is to comb your pet over a damp white towel or paper and if fleas or black particles fall onto the damp white surface and turns a reddish colour you know that there are fleas present. As this black particle is flea faeces which contains dried blood that will turn red once in contact with a wet surface. Fleas lay eggs, and the eggs fall off where the pet goes. This means that you must treat your house if your pet has picked up fleas. The life cycle of a flea is about four weeks, so even with diligent treatment; it will probably take that long to rid your environment of fleas. Particularly during flea season, and whether or not you've seen fleas in your home, wash all bedding and blankets in hot water, vacuum all floors, rugs, furniture and other surfaces at least once a week, paying particular attention to rooms and places the animal usually stays. To make cleaning easier, you can cover furniture and your pet's favorite rugs with sheets.
Lemon- citrus is a natural flea repellent. Slice a lemon (leave the peel on) and pour 1 cup of boiling water over it. Let sit overnight- this water can then be sprayed on your pet. This will help eliminate fleas and temporarily prevent new ones from taking up residence on your pet.
Wandering Jew is a common cause of contact allergies in dogs. Contact allergies normally affects the belly, armpits, paws and face, so the best prevention is to remove the plant or not let your dog have access to areas where the plant is.
Soothing Your Dog's Itch With Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a natural remedy you can prepare yourself at home to soothe your dog’s itching.
Oatmeal cleans, soothes, relieves and balances the pH level without causing further irritations. Here is the home remedy recipe for Oatmeal Rinse to soothe your dog's itching.
Oatmeal or rolled oats will do
A stocking sock or small muslin bag
Luke warm water bath
Step 1: Place 2 tablespoons of oatmeal into the stocking sock or muslin bag
Step 2: Run stocking sock or bag through the lukewarm water bath until the water becomes milky
Step 3: Place dog in bath and soak dog in oatmeal water. You can use the stocking sock or bag to sponge the dog.
Step 4: Leave on dog for 3-5 minutes- as long as dog will tolerate standing in the bath.
Step 5: Rinse off with warm water.
As a qualified Animal Naturopath and Muscle therapist I have found that natural remedies, certain dietary vitamin supplements and herbal products can help your pet with their allergies and many other health issues. Contact me to discuss your dog’s best natural health solutions.
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Hi I'm Sharon Osmond the owner and founder of K9 Swim. The Splash Blog is where I share tips and information on dog's health and safety and some fun facts and stories.