A reputable Veterinary Assistant Program will provide information on how to care for your dog as he ages. With advances in science and nutrition, dogs are living longer just like their owners. Still, changes in health and wellness in your senior dog can be signs of illness. Some common illnesses aging dogs can experience similar to their human counterparts include diabetes, liver and kidney disease, heart disease, stiff joints, dental disease, or cancer.

Since dogs age faster than humans it is important to know ranges that increase disease risk in older dogs. Most breeds enter their senior years between seven to ten years of age, with larger breeds beginning earlier and smaller breeds entering the senior stage a bit later.

Some changes that can become obvious indicators of age-related disease in your dog include:

? Drinking more water with corresponding increased urination
? “Accidents” in the house
? Hair and coat changes that become course or thin
? Lumps or skin color changes
? Limping or difficulty in rising from a sitting/lying down position
? Excessive drooling
? Bad breath
? Coughing or choking
? Easily tiring or a reluctance to play.

A quality veterinary assistant program advises pet owners to take their maturing dog for a wellness exam at least once a year. As your dog ages even further, some vet assistant programs recommend a trip to the vet every six months. Additionally, many veterinarians suggest putting your dog on a senior diet as their metabolism slows, while also adding supplements to ensure balanced nutrition.

Some common conditions in an aging dog are very similar to humans in that they may not indicate disease but can still be ameliorated by changing the kind of care you give your dog.

Older dogs are more sensitive to heat or cold, for example. You’ll want to provide blankets to maintain body temperature when he is too cold, or facilitate cooling strategies during excessive heat spells.

Vet assistant programs recommend reducing clutter for dogs with vision problems and providing ramps for arthritic dogs, much like you would for a person. Any observable changes like lumps, hearing loss, change in appetite, or behavior could indicate a more serious problem. If you observe changes between wellness visits, veterinary assistant programs urge contacting your dog’s veterinarian to determine if a disease process is underway.

John Brown is a veterinary assistant who has instructed several courses in veterinary assistant programs. Learn more by visiting www.animalbehaviorcollege.com.

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