Proper Diet and Nutrition in Older Dogs

Senior Dog

Dogs start showing visible, age-related changes at about seven to twelve years of age. There are metabolic, immunologic and body composition changes, that occur during that age span. Some of these are unavoidable. Others can be managed with a proper diet.

Since smaller dogs tend to live longer and don’t experience age-related changes as early as bigger dogs, size is used to determine when it’s time to feed your canine a senior diet:

  • Small breeds/dogs weighing less than 20 pounds—7 years of age
  • Medium breeds/dogs weighing 21 to 50 pounds—7 years of age
  • Large breeds/dogs weighing 51 to 90 pounds—6 years of age
  • Giant breeds/dogs weighing 91 pounds or more—5 years of age

The main objectives in the feeding an older dog should be to maintain health and optimum body weight, slow or prevent the development of chronic disease, and minimize or improve clinical signs of diseases that may already be present.

As a dog ages, health issues may arise, including:

– deterioration of skin and coat

– loss of muscle mass

– more frequent intestinal problems

– arthritis

– obesity

– dental problems

– decreased ability to fight off infection

Older dogs have been shown to progressively put on body fat in spite of consuming fewer calories. This change in body composition is inevitable and may be aggravated by either reduced energy expenditure or a change in metabolic rate. Either way, it is important to feed a diet with a lower caloric density to avoid weight gain, but with a normal protein level to help maintain muscle mass.

Avoid “senior” diets that have reduced levels of protein. Studies have shown that the protein requirement for older dogs does not decrease with age, and that protein levels do not contribute to the development or progression of renal failure. It is important to feed older dogs diets that contain optimum levels of highly digestible protein to help maintain good muscle mass.

Talk to a Lange Animal Clinic veterinarian about increasing your senior dogs GLA intake. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fatty acid that plays a role in the maintenance of healthy skin and coat. Although it is normally produced in a dog’s liver, GLA levels may be diminished in older dogs. Does your older dog’s diet contain GLA?

Aging can affect a dog’s intestinal bacteria, which can result in symptoms of gastrointestinal disease. Senior diets for dogs should promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Antioxidants such as vitamin E and beta-carotene help eliminate free radical particles that can damage body tissues and cause signs of aging. Senior diets for dogs should contain higher levels of these antioxidant compounds. Antioxidants can also increase the effectiveness of the immune system in senior dogs.

Routine care for geriatric pets should involve a consistent daily routine and periodic veterinary examinations to assess the presence or progress of chronic disease. Stressful situations and abrupt changes in daily routines should be avoided. If a drastic change must be made to an older pet’s routine, try to minimize stress and to realize the change in a gradual manner.

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Halloween Pet Safety Tips

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  1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call us immediately or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
  2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.
  3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.
  4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.
  5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.
  6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go “au natural” or donning a festive bandana.
  7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
  8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.
  9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.
  10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you!

September is Animal Pain Awareness Month

Pet Pain1

While we are different species, we all process and feel pain similarly. As advances in modern medicine have increased our lifespan, our animal family members are also reaping the benefits of advances in modern veterinary medicine. More of our beloved pets are undergoing elective surgical procedures to treat a variety of disease processes, from a torn cruciate ligament to extractions of infected teeth.

Pain management has become an important specialty area in veterinary medicine just as it has in human medicine. You want the best for your family members and that includes top-of-the-line treatments for pain management.

Because their pain is our pain

It was once thought that animals did not experience pain in the same way people do. But research supports that if a procedure is thought to be painful to us, it will also be painful to our furry friends as well, even though they may go to great lengths to hide it from us. So proper pain management must be offered to all of our patients.

What you can do

  1. Ask our veterinary team about the customized steps we will take to manage your pet’s pain.
  2. Talk to our veterinary team about common signs of osteoarthritis pain in senior pets, such as reluctance to go up or down stairs, being slow to rise after sleeping and loss of interest in playing, running or jumping.
  3. Request a pain consultation for your pet. Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians offer tailored pain management protocols for patients at risk for chronic pain such as osteoarthritis.
  4. Ask about rehabilitation options and other steps to manage any chronic pain your pet experiences.

Pain management is an important aspect of any surgical or medical procedure.  Together with our veterinary team, you can make your pets as comfortable as possible in the postoperative period or into their senior years.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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Ear Infections in Dogs- Causes and Treatments

EarInfection-ImgC

How common are ear infections in dogs?

Infection of the external ear canal (outer ear infection) is called otitis externa and is one of the most common types of infections seen in dogs. Some breeds, particularly those with large, floppy or hairy ears like Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles or Old English Sheepdogs, appear to be more prone to ear infections, but ear infections may occur in any breed.

What are the symptoms of an ear infection?

Ear infections are painful. Many dogs will shake their head and scratch their ears trying to relieve the discomfort. The ears often become red and inflamed and develop an offensive odor. A black or yellowish discharge commonly occurs. In chronic cases the ears may appear crusty or thickened and the ear canals often become narrowed (stenotic) due to the chronic inflammation.

Don’t these symptoms usually indicate ear mites?

Ear mites can cause several of these symptoms, including a black discharge, scratching, and head shaking. However, ear mite infections are more common in puppies and kittens. Adult dogs may occasionally contract ear mites from puppies or cats that are infected. Ear mites create an environment within the ear canal that often leads to a secondary bacterial or yeast (fungal) infection.

Since these symptoms are similar and usually mean an infection, why can’t I just get some ear medication?

There are several kinds of bacteria and at least one type of fungus that commonly cause ear infections. Without knowing EarInfection-ImgAthe specific kind of infection present, we do not know which medication to use. In some cases, the problem is a foreign body, a polyp or a tumor. Treatment with medication alone will not resolve these problems. It is important that your dog be examined to ensure that the eardrum is intact. Administration of certain medications can result in loss of hearing if the eardrum is ruptured. This can only be detected by a thorough ear examination by your veterinarian.

How do you know which drug to use?

First, the ear canal is examined with an otoscope, an instrument that provides magnification and light. This examination allows your veterinarian to determine whether the eardrum is intact and if there is any foreign material in the canal. When a dog is in extreme pain and refuses to allow the examination, it may be necessary to sedate or anesthetize the dog for a thorough examination.

The next step is to examine a sample of the material from the ear canal under a microscope to determine the type of organism causing the infection. Microscopic examination is important in helping the veterinarian choose the right medication to treat the inflamed ear canal. Culture and sensitivity tests are often used in severe or chronic ear infections.

How are ear infections treated?

The results of the otoscopic and microscopic examination usually determine the diagnosis and course of treatment. If there is a foreign body, wax plug or parasite lodged in the ear canal, it will be removed. Some dogs must be sedated for this, or to allow a thorough ear flushing and cleaning. Microscopic study of debris from the ear canal helps determine which drug to use. Many dogs will have more than one type of infection present (e.g., a bacterium and a fungus, or two kinds of bacteria). This situation usually requires the use of multiple medications or a broad-spectrum medication.

“Many dogs with chronic or recurrent ear infections have allergies or
low thyroid function (hypothyroidism).”

An important part of the evaluation of the patient is the identification of underlying disease. Many dogs with chronic or recurrent ear infections have allergies or low thyroid function (hypothyroidism). If underlying disease is suspected, it must be diagnosed and treated or the pet will continue to experience chronic ear problems.

What is the prognosis?

Nearly all ear infections that are properly diagnosed and treated can be successfully managed. However, if an underlying cause remains unidentified and untreated, the outcome will be less favorable. Several recheck examinations may be needed before the outcome is successful.

How important is it to treat an ear infection?

Dogs with ear infections are uncomfortable. Their ears are a source of constant pain and they frequently scratch them and shake their head. This can cause a condition called an “aural hematoma”, in which blood vessels in the ear flap break, causing a painful swelling that requires surgical treatment. Deep ear infections can damage or rupture the eardrum, causing an internal ear infection and even permanent hearing loss.

My dog’s ear canal is nearly closed. Is that a problem?

Closing of the ear canal is another result of a chronic ear infection. This is known as hyperplasia or stenosis If the ear canal is swollen, it is difficult or impossible for medications to penetrate into the horizontal canal. Anti-inflammatory medications can sometimes shrink the swollen tissues and open the canal in some dogs. Most cases of hyperplasia will eventually require surgery.

What is the goal of ear canal surgery?

There are several surgical procedures that are used to treat this problem. The most commonly performed surgery is called a lateral ear resection. The goal of the surgery is to remove the vertical part of the ear canal and to eliminate the swollen tissue from the horizontal canal. It is relatively easy to remove the vertical canal, but removal of large amounts of tissue from the horizontal canal is more difficult. In some cases, it is necessary to remove the entire ear canal (total ear ablation), which may result in permanent impairment of hearing.

Is there anything I need to know about administering medication in the ear?

It is important to get the medication into the horizontal part of the ear canal. Unlike our ear canal, the dog’s external ear canal is “L” shaped. The vertical canal connects with the outside of the ear and is the upper part of the “L”. The horizontal canal lies deeper in the canal and terminates at the eardrum. Our goal is to administer the medication into the lower part of the “L” – the horizontal ear canal.

The ear canal may be medicated by following these steps:

  1. EarInfection-ImgB1Gently pull the earflap straight up and slightly toward the back and hold it with one hand.
  2. Using the other hand, apply a small amount of medication into the vertical part of the ear canal while continuing to keep the earflap elevated. Hold the ear up long enough for the medication to run down to the turn between the vertical and horizontal canal.
  3. Put one finger in front of and at the base of the earflap, and put your thumb behind and at the base.
  4. Massage the ear canal between your fingers and thumb. A “squishing” sound tells you that the medication has gone into the horizontal canal.
  5. Release the ear and let your dog shake its head. Many medications will contain a wax solvent and you may observe debris dissolved in this solvent leaving the ear as your dog shakes its head.

If a second medication is to be used, apply it in the same manner. Typically, you should wait 5-30 minutes before applying additional medications. Be sure to ask your veterinarian for specific directions regarding any ear medication or cleansing agents.

“Do not use cotton tipped applicators to do this, as they tend to push
debris back into the vertical ear canal.”

When all medications have been applied, clean the outer part of the ear canal and the inside of the earflap with a cotton ball soaked in some of the medication. Do not use cotton tipped applicators to do this, as they tend to push debris back into the vertical ear canal.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

About Us 
Our Services
Setup an Appointment

LANGE ANIMAL CLINIC WEBSITE 2.0… GO LIVE!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14TH WHEN OUR NEW WEBSITE GOES LIVE!

C.A.N.I.  What do those initials stand for?  Constant And Never-ending Improvement!  Our new website will host a number of brand new features, tools and resources for our clients and will be launched Monday, September 14th.  You will be able to download our new mobile app to have access from your tablet or smartphone.  Stay in the loop with all of the latest & greatest information concerning your pets’ health needs and take advantage of a number of useful tools for your convenience.

ResourcesPage

Pet Owner Resources– Now Lange Animal Clinic clients can register and login directly to ePetHealth directly from our website to manage their pets’ health.  View your pets’medical history & upcoming reminders, access countless pet care videos/guides, print pet ID cards, and more.

Expanded Online Store- Shop from over 4,000 prescription pet products online with free home delivery with Vets First Choice!* Purchase dietary products, refill prescriptions, flea, tick and heartworm preventatives… and much MORE!

Online Library- Explore local preferred pet care businesses such as groomers, kennels/boarding facilities, pet sitters, dog training centers, and more.  Learn more about your breed of pet and gain insightful information from various veterinary associations and organizations.

SocialPage

Career Opportunities– View and apply for career opportunities at the clinic!  We post open positions as they become available.  To apply for a position, provide your contact information and upload your resume and/or cover letter.

Write a Review– We want your feedback!  Now it’s easier for our clients to write their honest and open reviews about their experiences at our clinic. Reviews may be posted on Google Reviews or Yelp.

Blog Posts– Read interesting articles and gain insights from articles in our blog that cover such topics as:  scientific pet health studies, helpful tips for treating or caring for your beloved fur babies, national events/pet holidays, pet safety articles, and a lot of great tools to help provide your pets with the best care possible.

Be sure to mark your calendar and go to www.langeanimalclinic.com on Monday, September 14th to explore our new and improved website!  Please feel free to share your feedback by emailing us at info@langeanimalclinic.com.