The nine-year-old Golden Retriever was a mess. Her nails were so long, they curved around and made walking difficult, her coat was filthy, and her ears were so badly infected that her veterinarian recommended surgery. Now she was being given up for adoption. Would anyone want her? The odds were against it, but herefs a holistic makeover story in which an old dog gets a new name, a new look, a new home, and an exciting new life. It also serves as a model for an ideal adoption and rehabilitation of an older dog.
We all want our dogs to enjoy the highest quality of life for the longest possible time. Proper diet, adequate exercise, weight control, appropriate supplements, and good veterinary care can all help our dogs remain active and vibrant well into their senior years.
Aging is a natural process of all animals, and of all cells, tissues, and organs within the animal. Every individual animal ages at a different rate, and each type of tissue or organ system has its normal rate of proceeding through the aging process.
Western medicine’s mechanistic theory regards the body’s joints simply as the anatomic sites where the lever action of bones enables body movement. However, joints are much more complex than this, anatomically, mechanistically, and functionally. And when disease exists within any joint, the result can be completely disabling – not only to the local area but also to the entire body.
Old age should not be viewed as a downhill slide to inevitable suffering and death. Nor should chronic disease be perceived as part of growing old. Each year hundreds of elderly dogs are put to sleep prematurely – not because they are deathly ill, but because their guardians can’t get past their own fears of watching their companions grow old and die a natural death. Granted, it’s difficult to live in anticipation of a companion’s death, but with all things considered, this is really our problem, not theirs.
Cataracts make the lens of the eye opaque or cloudy, which gradually reduces vision to the point of blindness. In their early stages, cataracts cause blurring and distortion of vision, but they are invisible to the naked eye. By the time most owners notice them, cataracts involve more than 60 percent of the dog's eye. Cataracts often accompany other illnesses, such as diabetes and hypothyroidism (low thyroid function). Surgery performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist is the only treatment considered effective in conventional veterinary medicine and is indicated only in cases where the cataracts are not a result of a secondary disease such as diabetes.
The onset of “old age” in dogs varies by breed and size, but generally, the larger the dog, the fewer years it takes for him or her to appear geriatric. This is the average scenario, however; disease, stress, inadequate nutrition, and indifferent care can cause premature aging, as well as hasten the end of the dog’s life.Fortunately for us canine caretakers, the conditions that plague older dogs are fairly easy to observe – if you know what you are looking for. Most are also easy to treat, as long as you are willing to make some changes in your dog-care plan.
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