What is a senior dog?
Our dogs age much faster than we do and their rate of aging depends on their size. The larger the dog, the quicker they age. Very small sized breeds are considered senior once they are over the age of 8 whilst large sized breeds are considered senior once they are over the age of 5.
As your dog ages, their body slows down as the muscles and joints struggle to work at their full capacity. They may become afflicted with arthritis, struggle with mobility and have to deal with muscle atrophy. Just like in humans, old age in dogs can be painful for both body and mind.
What are the most common dilemmas of senior dogs?
The ageing process results in a loss of muscle tone and mass which adds stress to the joints as they are no longer well supported by adequate muscle mass. Loss of muscle mass also leads to a loss of balance and mobility, resulting in inactivity, stiffness and pain for our loved canine family member. Inactivity and loss of muscle mass fast-tracks the aging process and increases the risk of injury from slips, falls and strains.
In old age, the joint cartilage of your dog’s bones begin to wear down. As their bones rub against each other without their protective cushion, your dog can experience discomfort and pain.
Apart from all the physical dilemmas your dog might experience, the psychological impact of aging should not be underestimated. After a long time living an active lifestyle, it can be a significant shock to an elderly dog to have to start slowing down. Your dog might not be their happy self anymore and perhaps even show signs of depression.
How we can help
At Paws4Paws we take a multimodal approch to your aging dog. This means we make use of a variety of modalities to ensure the best possible treatment for your senior family member. Treatments may include remedial massage techniques, myofascial pain release and trigger point therapy to release tight muscles and reduce stiffness. Added benefits are an increase in circulation which brings nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, and the release of build-up toxins in inactive muscles. We also apply passive range of motion exercises to mobilise stiff and achy joints.
Depending on the age of your dog, we may use targeted low impact exercises to prevent further loss of muscle mass. If appropriate we provide you with a customised exercise plan to continue treatment at home. It will help our aging dog to get to their feet more easily and stabilise themselves with less difficulty and pain.
Psychologically, massage therapy can help to achieve a more balanced emotional state in your dog as it releases endorphins into the bloodstream that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. The result is a happier and more balanced dog that is coping better emotionally with the ageing process.
We also assess your home environment and, if necessary, give suggestions on how you can modify and adapt your home to decrease your dog’s discomfort, help healing, mitigate flare-ups in the case of degenerative conditions and slow the progression of degenerative diseases if present. Similarly, we discuss your dog’s exercise regime to see whether modifications are required.
At Paws4Paws we also refer to other specialists such as hydrotherapists and acupuncturists if we feel your dog would benefit from these modalities. Further, we might refer you back to your vet for reassessment of your dog’s pain management should we suspect your dog might be in pain that cannot be controlled and addressed with natural remedies, supplements and physical therapy alone.