For most of us, few things in life are as satisfying as the loving companionship our spinone provide us. By now, your older spinone has become a real member of the family, and with proper care, can live many more happy, healthy years.
YOUR OLDER SPINONE
The aging process brings about a gradual reduction in your spinone's physical capabilities. While they begin to undergo these changes starting at about age seven to ten years, different spinoni will show the various signs of growing old at different rates. The best time to recognize your spinone's "senior" status and need for extra TLC is long before advanced disabilities are apparent.
To increase the length and quality of your spinone's life, it is important to begin a process of Risk Factor Management. Risk Factors are characteristics of your spinone's background, environment or life style which put him or her at greater risk of developing various diseases or old-age changes. Some of these factors cannot be controlled, like the inherited predisposition of some dog breeds to certain diseases. Others however, like activity level, living conditions, quality of medical care, and level of nutrition, are all risk factors which a spinone owner can control. The extent to which such factors are managed to increase your spinone’s comfort and continued good health will help to determine the quality and quantity of your spinone's life.
I. Obesity is one of the single most important risks to the health of the older spinone. The tendency for the older spinone to gain weight is the result of a slowing of the body's metabolism at the same time that activity level decreases. Obesity is unhealthy in any spinone, but is especially harmful to the "senior's" joints, heart and other organs.
2. Because your spinone's metabolism is slowing, you may notice an increasing intolerance to heat and cold. This happens because your pet is now producing less of the hormones which are critical for maintaining the body's normal temperature, regardless of the outside air temperature.
3. Tooth loss and serious gum infections become more common as spinoni age. The loss of teeth is a problem; difficulty chewing food may result. However, the spread of bacteria from the mouth into the spinone's bloodstream when infections occur around the teeth is an even more serious risk to the senior spinone's health. Your veterinarian may recommend brushing or cleaning your spinone's teeth regularly with a toothbrush and water or special pet toothpaste (toothpastes for people should not be used). If necessary, your veterinarian may advise that your spinone's teeth and gums be cleaned professionally, as yours are by your dentist.
4. Skin problems may occur more frequently because the older spinone's skin is less elastic and repairs itself less rapidly. Hair loss is usually more pronounced because hair follicles are less active in later life. The functioning of the skin's immune system slows down and tumors within and under the skin become much more likely.
5. Your spinone's senses of sight, smell, taste and hearing will diminish to varying degrees as time passes. Many spinoni adapt to these losses very well, although some decrease in appetite may occur when taste and smell is affected. For such spinoni, a highly nutritious, well balanced diet is a must. Although spinoni show no unusual predisposition for certain diseases of the eyes, glaucoma and cataracts are more likely in aged pets, and infections or tumors of eyes and ears may also be serious problems.
6. If your spinone has not been neutered earlier in life, problems with various reproductive organs may occur later. Infection of the uterus is particularly likely in intact older female dogs, and unneutered male dogs frequently develop infections or tumors of the prostate gland. Breast tumors almost never occur in females spayed at a young age, but are a very serious health problem for older unspayed females. The older spinone may remain fertile well into old age, and unwanted pregnancies in geriatric females may be detrimental or even life threatening.
7. Diseases of vital internal organs like the heart, lungs, kidneys and bladder occur more frequently in the older dog. These organs have been working continuously for many years and will work more slowly or less effectively than before. Therefore, a complete health assessment of the geriatric dog will include considerable attention to these organs and even dietary recommendations to promote health. If your older spinone eats a food formulated for a much younger animal, the higher amounts of nutrients such as protein, phosphorus and sodium (salt) in those diets may harm the body over time. For this reason, you may want to consider a diet with proper levels and balance of all nutrients, including protein, phosphorus, and sodium, developed for the "senior" dog.
MANAGING THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH THE AGING SPINONE
What you can do at home:
1. Balance your spinone's activity level and food intake to avoid excess weight gain. You may want to consider consulting your veterinarian to recommend exercise appropriate for your particular spinone as well as a diet with the proper balance of calories and nutrients which will keep the fat off, if necessary.
2. Keep your spinone's living and sleeping areas clean, dry and warm at all times. If you have several spinoni, make certain your "senior" spinone has ample opportunity to eat and drink without having to compete with younger dogs.
3. Periodically check the mouth for reddened gums, loose teeth or unusual swellings of any kind. Check eyes for redness, unusual cloudiness or discomfort, or discharges.
4. Thoroughly groom and inspect your older spinone regularly. Not only will this remove dead or tangled hair and debris from the coat, but it will allow you to notice sores, rashes, lumps, parasites (like ticks), unusual discharges or other physical changes which may be hidden from view in the coat. To protect and maintain healthy skin and hair, your older spinone will need an appropriate high quality diet with the right levels of certain essential fatty acids, vitamins A and E as well as zinc to promote proper hair growth and skin cell turnover
5. If your spinone's eyesight is impaired, avoid moving furniture or other familiar objects in the home unnecessarily. In general, older dogs seem to do better when their lives follow a consistent routine. 6. Note if your spinone has regular bowel movements and can urinate easily. If increased water drinking or unusually large or small volume of urine is passed for twenty-four hours or more, consult with your veterinarian, this may be a sign of kidney problems or diabetes.
7. Take your older spinone to your veterinarian regularly for geriatric check-ups, even if he or she seems perfectly well. A professional examination may uncover some problem in its earliest stages when it will be easiest to treat. If you notice some change in your spinone's behavior or appearance at home, call or see your veterinarian without delay. Small problems can quickly become big ones in older dogs. Follow your veterinarian's recommendations for regular exercise, administration of any medication, and proper diet very closely. Ask about the advisability of spaying or neutering your pet now.
8. Avoid feeding commercial "treats" and table foods which are generally high in sodium. If you want to reward your pet, feed kibbles of the dry food your veterinarian recommends.
THE ROLE OF DIET
The right diet is important at every stage of a spinone's life, but never more than during the senior years. Even though your spinone may not act much differently, his or her body is going through many changes. These changes influence the type of food an older dog should be fed. Through diet, you can help manage the risk of obesity, heart failure, kidney failure, skin and digestive problems and others, by controlling certain nutrients such as sodium, phosphorus, protein and fat. For example, dietary salt intake should be reduced for the older spinone while other vital nutrients must be present in a highly available form to meet the senior dog requirements. The proper diet provides just the right balance of nutrients needed for tissue maintenance and repair, like high quality protein, fatty acids, vitamins and certain minerals. Excesses of nutrients are avoided, reducing the strain on aging vital organs. If your older spinone has reduced calorie needs, the proper diet will provide essential nutrients balanced to a higher fiber, lower fat content to reduce the risk of obesity.
Keeping your older pet happy and healthy is a matter of regular medical check-ups, care, proper exercise and home care, and nutrition designed especially for your pet's healthy golden years. And care and love from you, of course!
Feel free to include your comments and recommendations for our aging spinone.
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Member Since: 04/13/2005 ~
Last Visit: 05/23/2018