AGING DOGS - FIVE SIGNS
No one can stop the wheel of time. But if you are like me, then you love your dog so much that you want him to live forever! You can play an important role in keeping your dog healthy longer. A home care health program with regular application of light massage, gentle stretching and some hydrotherapy modalities when applicable, can make a huge difference in the quality of life of your aging animal. It will seriously increase your dog’s chance of living better and longer.
As the years go by, here are some of the main early changes that occur in your animal:
- Decreased activity. As your dog(s) age, his metabolic rate slows and as a result, they become less active. Also the ware-and-tear takes its tow on the musculoskeletal system leading to various grade of inflammation in the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints causing body aches and possibly leading to arthritis. Regular massage will secure good blood flow to the different body part and promote the dog natural healing faculties. Proper stretching will maintain optimal flexibility in most of his joints.
- Weight gain. Another side effect of the slowing metabolic rate is causing your elderly dog to require 30 to 40 percent fewer calories. So if you simply keep him eating a normal maintenance diet, often it results in weight gain, leading to obesity. Regular exercises, as much as he can do will help burn some of those calories. Please consult your veterinarian for proper advice on your dog’s diet.
- Loss of hearing. Very much like humans, when a dog ages, the specialized tissues and nerve cells that compose the hearing apparatus degenerate, resulting in a slow loss of hearing. Regular massage and stretching of your dog hears can stimulate those nerve cell and somewhat slow down the degenerative process and maintain his hearing.
- Loss of vision. Often in elderly dog, the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. This is known as lenticular sclerosis. This natural change does not cause significant vision loss. However, cataracts may develop, which do interfere with vision. For this reason, please have your veterinarian check his eyes as soon as you notice the cloudiness in your dog’s eyes. Early detection will play an important role in the delaying of this natural degenerative process.
- Infections. With age, the dog’s natural immune system weakens. This results in your dog being more prone to infection. If you suspect any infection, please consult your veterinarian immediately for proper diagnosis and advice on the proper course of action for your dog’s prompt recovery. As a rule, infection is a contraindication to massage as it increases blood circulation and may contribute to spreading the infection (see article on contraindications to massaging a dog). Ask your veterinarian for OK before resuming massage. When consulting your veterinarian, ask him about diet supplements and foods that contain antioxidants to encourage a strong healthy immune system.
Your daily application of gentle massage, easy stretching exercises and hydrotherapy modalities, when applicable, will greatly contribute to your dog health and well being, and optimize his chance for a longer and fuller life. Your palpation skills will allow you to detect any abnormalities and symptoms of inflammation much earlier than by sight, allowing you to take immediate action. Also, this daily home care will strengthen your relationship with your dog and he will love you for it.
I hope you enjoyed this article and found the information useful. My goal is help you provide quality home care for the benefit of your animal.
Please visit our FREE library. Our many articles address important aspects of animal wellness and fitness. Take the time to scroll through our free library to find out how you can actively contribute to your dog’s wellness.
Animal Awareness also offers a large video library with over a 100 mini-videos that will show you how to easily perform the various massage and stretching techniques talked about in this article. These videos offer you the correct start and visual guidance. With this knowledge, you will be able to develop a good home care program for the benefit of your animal friend. He will love you for it.
Enjoy your new Awareness!
Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt, LMT
Recommended DVD Downloads
The “Recuperation Massage Routine" (CV017) and / or the “Trouble Spot Massage Routine" (CV018) are strongly recommended to assist the aging animal in his daily routine. The use of various “Hydrotherapy Modalities” (CV008) will also maximize the benefit of your home care program.
If you are just starting with your home care program, consider our “Introduction to Animal Massage” package, a 20% discount value on the first 7 DVDs, to secure a sound foundation in your animal massage skills. Then take advantage of our other packages to increase your knowledge of home-care protocols for the benefit of your dog(s).