VCA West Seattle Veterinary Hospital

How to Help Your Senior Dog Deal With the Aches and Pains of Old Age

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Your dog may breeze through years of senior citizenship without any significant health issues, but sooner or later age always catches up. You may discover that your dog can't see or hear anymore or that he's developed an irritable streak or, worse, incontinence.

Any time a new health issue develops, the best course of action is to have it checked out by your dog's veterinarian. The good news? Many problems are treatable at any age, including cognitive dysfunction (doggy dementia), which can be eased with medication.

Remember, this is an animal that adores you; this pet lives for your approval and affection. As he begins to lose his health, he needs your assurance more than ever. Time, of course, will not be denied. But even for problems that your vet can't cure, there's plenty you can do to help your dog age gracefully and comfortably.

Blind dogs: Maintain your blind dog's environment with minimal change. Dogs actually adapt amazingly well when they lose their eyesight — as long as you don't start rearranging the furniture. If your dog knows his way around your house and yard and has a walking route that suits him, try to keep these things constant to prevent injuries and put him at ease.

Deaf dogs: For a dog living in a soundless world, sudden contact can be unnerving. It can also be dangerous for the person who delivers the shock (your dog may nip out of fear!). Learn how to let your dog know you're coming, and teach your children, neighbors and friends as well. Many dogs are hearing-impaired, but not completely deaf. In those situations, a few simple hand claps are enough to get his attention. If your dog is completely deaf, step loudly as you approach — your footfalls will cause a vibration that can be felt even if it's not heard.

Leaky dogs: If your dog has overnight incontinence, the situation probably upsets him even more than it upsets you. Take him out right before bedtime, and then place a water-absorbent barrier in his bedding. You can use a puppy pad, cut-up pieces of a water-resistant mattress pad or an upside-down, rubber-backed bath mat. Whatever you use will need to be washed or replaced daily, but the extra loads of laundry are a small price to pay.

Once again, be sure to work with your veterinarian as you address the challenges of age. Be especially keen on the combinations of prescription pain medications and so-called "neutraceuticals" — over-the-counter supplements like glucosamine and omega-3 oils — that can make life comfortable.

Slow down, be patient, be helpful. Your sweet, older dog will appreciate it more than you can imagine!

This article was written by a Veterinarian.


Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency during normal business hours, please call us immediately. If you have an emergency outside of our normal business hours, please contact a local emergency animal hospital.