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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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.  

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International Assistance Dog Week August 2 – 8

servicedog

Each year, beginning on the first Sunday in August, the staff at Lange Animal Clinic celebrates the hard work and heroic deeds performed by assistance dogs around the world. This year, International Assistance Dog Week falls on August 2, 2015 – August 8, 2015.

Where the acceptance of service dogs is concerned, we’ve made great strides in the United States over the last year. For example, New Jersey lawmakers have introduced legislation aimed at educating employees on the rights of citizens with a disability to have a guide or service dog with them in public places. This came about after an incident in 2013 involving a legally blind man who was ordered to remove his dog from a store, even after providing proof that his dog was a trained service animal.

In other places in the country, children are being taught about proper etiquette when dealing with service dogs, which is a fantastic step toward increased safety for the disabled, the dog, and the children.  Unfortunately, even in light of all of these positive changes, the process continues to be a slow and tedious one.  Raising awareness about the importance of these animals is going to require many more years of dedication on all of our parts.   These dogs are more than just pets to the people they serve.  They change lives in profound and positive ways, and refusing to welcome them into public places is not the way that they should be treated.

This time next year, we’re looking forward to sharing more progress and positive updates about the acceptance of service dogs.  Here’s how you can help:

  • If you are the owner or manager of a business, we want to encourage you to teach your employees about the importance of service animals and the work they do. You might even consider learning more about how service dogs are actually changing the workplace.
  • International Assistance Dog Week hosts fundraising events all over the United States. If you’re lucky, there will be one in your town this year, which is a great opportunity to support this very important cause.  You can find a local IADW event by clicking HERE.

Download the New, Free ASPCA Harmful Substances App!

We wanted to share with all of you that the ASPCA has just launched a very useful free app for smartphones and tablets which quickly and easily allows you to gather critical information on substances that may be harmful to your pet(s) based off their species!

With just a few swipes, you can:

  • Lookup, by species, substances of all sorts to determine if they may or may not be harmful to your pet(s).
  • Easily select which item you are searching for in based on their quick selection menu.
  • Gain access to colorful images for easy identification, level of toxicity, side effects, and actions to take for each item listed.
  • Complete access to their “chocolate wheel” and “rodentislide”, quickly helping you determine the level of severity for your pet if these substances are consumed.
  • Quickly contact the ASPCA 24/7/365 hotline number, with full access to their specially trained staff and toxicologists in a click of a button.

Below are some screen shots of this new free app which is available for download:

smartphone screenshots

To download the app based on your device- click on either one of these links:

DOWNLOAD NOW

Downloadicon-Apple

Downloadicon-Android


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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It’s Going to Be a HOT & HUMID Day in Pekin Today- Keep Your Pets at Home and Please Share This with Friends & Family

dogsleftincar

Today, the temperatures in Pekin and the surrounding areas are supposed to hit the low 90’s.  Bella, Dotty, Jake, and Snickers…sure, they’re fairly common pet names, but they’re also the names of just a few of the pets that died last year because they were left in cars on warm (and not necessarily hot) days while their owners were shopping, visiting friends or family, or running errands. What’s so tragic is that these beloved pets were simply the victims of bad judgment.

Want numbers? An independent study1 showed that the interior temperature of vehicles parked in outside temperatures ranging from 72 to 96° F rose steadily as time increased. And cracking the windows doesn’t help….

Temp in Cars Table

…add to that the fact that most pets are not properly restrained while in the car, and you’ve got some dangerous situations – for people and pets alike. Unrestrained pets can be seriously or fatally injured, or could even hurt you, in a collision or sudden braking situation. In addition, they’re a distraction for the driver, which increases the risk of driver errors. According to a 2010 American Automobile Association (AAA) survey, 2 out of 3 owners engage in distracting behaviors (playing with, feeding or petting their dog, or letting their dog sit in their lap) when pets are in the car…and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 20% of injury crashes involve distracted driving.

Please don’t become another statistic: only take your pets in the vehicle with you when you absolutely need to, and always properly restrain your pets while in the vehicle.

How can you help prevent these injuries and deaths?

  • Learn more about keeping your pet safe during travel;
  • Set a good example by leaving your pet(s) at home except when you need to have them in the vehicle;
  • Set a good example by always properly restraining your own pet(s) while in a vehicle;
  • Educate clients, family and friends about these issues and how they can keep their pet(s) safe;
  • SHARE THIS POST!

Here is a video of a well known Veterinarian, Dr. Ernie Ward, who locked himself in his car armed with a thermometer to see what it feels like for an animal in the same scary situation. With him, he brought a clock and a video camera and narrated his experience as the time ticked and the mercury level rose.

https://youtu.be/JbOcCQ-y3OY


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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Dental Cleanings for Cats and Dogs- Importance and Benefits

Professional dental cleaning performed by a Lange Animal Clinic Veterinarian is often indicated when periodontal disease is present.  Our own teeth are scaled by a dentist or hygienist – we sit in the chair and open our mouth when requested, letting the professional do their work. While the principles of good oral hygiene and dental health are the same for dogs and cats as for people, there are some significant differences. Humans understand why the procedure is important, and we typically do not need sedation or restraint. Neither is true for our pets.

Here are some very interesting statistics and facts:

  • Eighty-five percent of all pets have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years of age.
  • Dental disease can result in bad breath, painful chewing, and tooth loss.
  • Bacteria under the gum can travel to the heart, kidneys, and liver.
  • A professional dental cleaning is required to remove plaque and tartar from a pet’s teeth and to assess the health of the mouth.
  • A thorough dental cleaning requires that the pet be under anesthesia.
  • Regular at-home dental care can help improve the health of your pet’s mouth and lengthen the intervals between professional dental cleanings.

Another important difference between human and veterinary dental practice is that we tell the dentist when there is discomfort; to ensure that nothing is missed in dogs or cats, our patients require a thorough oral examination as part of a dental scaling procedure. Additionally, bloodwork is required in advance of a dental cleaning to ensure your pet is not experiencing any other health concerns.  Occasionally, a Lange Animal Clinic Veterinarian may recommend dental radiographs as well.

Dental


Every professional dental cleaning starts with a review of the patient’s general health and any previous dental history. For a thorough, safe dental cleaning in veterinary patients, anesthesia is essential, as this permits a comprehensive assessment of the tissues, allows dental radiographs to be made when indicated, keeps the pet immobile during the process, and eliminates pain or discomfort- followed by the cleaning (scaling and polishing procedure) itself above and below the gum-line. “Non-anesthetic or Anesthesia-free dental scaling” is not recommended by American Veterinary Dental Council (AVDC).

Depending on the overall health of the teeth, there may need to be tooth extractions for those where periodontal disease have severely damaged them.  This process is performed during the cleaning and we do our best to communicate this to our clients in advance of the dental cleaning procedure.  However, once we are actually able to get under the gum line we may, from time to time, discover the roots of a tooth is damaged to the point it should be removed.

Overall, dental cleaning for dogs and cats is a very important treatment that should be performed.  Your pet will feel better afterwards and the quality of life will be improved.


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