Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog.

Senior Dogs

Senior Dogs

By Lew Olson • May 2002 Newsletter
The average age for a dog to enter the senior years is age seven, with smaller dogs aging slower and giant breeds showing signs of aging as early as age five. Dogs can show physical and mental symptoms of aging, just like their caregivers. The most obvious signs of aging are gray hair on the face and muzzle, slowing down in activities and spending more time sleeping.

Since some symptoms of aging can also be the symptoms of illness or disease so it is important to have a yearly health screening. In the case of very senior dogs, every six months is recommended.

Some typical tests to run include:
– Full chemistry and blood panel
– Urinalysis
– Thyroid blood panel
Often these tests can indicate the beginning of problems that could become far more serious if left untreated. Typical problems found in senior dogs include:
Cushings Disease
A disease caused by an overactive adrenal cortex with symptoms of a large abdomen, thin legs and muscle loss, swollen eyelids, increased body hair and thinning of the skin.
Addison’s Disease
Reduced adrenal function, resulting in weakness, lethargy, dizziness, food cravings, nausea, decrease in body hair and feeling cold. Another symptom is a discoloration of the skin.
A defect in the body in the production of insulin due to a defect in the pancreas. The symptoms can include itching, unusual thirst, fatigue, increased urination and sticky urine, loss of hair on legs and a slow healing response.
Kidney problems
Often seen as increased water consumption, more frequent urination, straining to urinate, foul breath odor, appetite loss, blood in the urine and back pain.
Heart problems
Symptoms include panting, coughing and fluid build up in the abdomen.
An underproduction of the thyroid gland. Most often seen as fatigue, intolerance to cold, weight gain, weakness, dry skin and coat, poor attention span and loss of appetite.
Symptoms include painful joints, difficultly getting up from a laying position, slower movement and pain when first walking.
Also, if your senior dog displays any of these following symptoms, it is recommended that you have a licensed veterinarian check your dog:
– Change in water intake
– Increase or decrease in appetite
– Lameness for more than five days
– Bad breath
– Distended abdomen
– Frequent urination
– Increased or decreased weight
– Continually panting and/or coughing
Once you have determined your senior dog is in reasonably good health, the next consideration is nutrition. While there are many commercial diets that advertise lower protein for seniors, recent studies have shown that senior dogs need a high protein diet. They have protein needs as high, if not higher than adult dogs. (See this Purina article).
What is more important is the quality, or bioavailability of the protein. A raw diet would provide the high quality protein and nutrition that a senior dog needs. Remember, however, that many seniors are less active and often more prone to gain weight. Therefore, it is important for these dogs to have lower fat in the diet. You can minimize the fat by removing the skin from chicken, using leaner cuts of meat and avoiding starchy vegetables and grains.
For other senior dogs, weight loss and muscle tone may be an issue. For these dogs, it might be recommended to retain the fat in the diet and add Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of Salmon Oil or Flax Seed Oil and L-Glutamine which helps stop muscle atrophy. Omega-3 fatty acids are also helpful in protecting the heart, kidneys and liver and can help with maintaining a healthy coat and skin. Vitamin E helps to promote healing and is an important antioxidant. B vitamins are helpful for nerve repair and brain function. Phytonutrients found in many sea algae are also helpful for the immune system and promoting good health.
Some good supplements for the senior dog include:
Bertes Immune Blend
This is a blend of vitamin C, bioflavonoid, a B complex, vitamin E, l-glutamine, digestive enzymes, acidophilus and vitamin A. This is a highly palatable mix with liver powder and no extra fillers.
Salmon Oil capsules
This is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Bertes Green Blend
This blend is rich in phytonutrients from blue green algae, spirulina, dulce, irish moss, kelp and alfalfa. It also contains fenugreek, which aids digestion. This is a yeast free product.
While the senior dog becomes less active as they age, exercise is still an important issue. Probably one of the best forms of exercise is a daily walk. Walking helps to keep muscle tone and maintain healthy joints. Dogs needs to be individually assessed for their ability, but even several short walks a day is important for mental and physical wellness. Swimming is also an excellent low impact therapy and several cities now offer hydrotherapy for dogs with joint pain and loss of muscle tone. Try to keep a daily routine that your senior will look forward to and also give you and your senior priority time together. Try to vary these walks in the neighborhood, to dog parks and special outings by the lake.
Grooming is of special importance to senior dogs. Often their coats and skin become more dry, and bathing can help keep these clean and also give the owner an opportunity to check their dog for any bumps, abrasions or skin changes. A mild shampoo is recommended as to not strip the oil from the skin.
Ear care is also important. After bathing, apply a few drops of either Halo Ear Wash to the ears, or Thayers Witch Hazel with Aloe. Place a few drops in the ear canal, gently massage the base of the ear and remove any excess moisture with a cotton ball.
Senior dogs can get drier eyes when they age. Sometimes this is caused by an autoimmune condition as they age, or be related to other ailments. Halo Eyewash is gentle to the eyes. It soothes them and helps keep them lubricated.
Lastly, keep the nails short and trimmed. Senior dogs often have trouble with balance and coordination, and long sharp nails can only make their mobility more difficult. The nails should be kept short enough to not hear them “click” when your dog walks on a smooth hard surface. If you are uncertain on how to do this yourself, then a trip to the groomer or your veterinarian to have them show you how to do this every two weeks or have them do it every two weeks.
Contact Me
If you would like to ask me any questions about my products, I would love to hear from you. Please check your return address when you send me email from my web site and try to write me again if you have not heard back from me.
To email: lew@b-naturals.com
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© Copyright 2002 Lew Olson, All Rights Reserved

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