One of the things that we like least about having pets in our life is their short life span. It is so much shorter than our own. We all have lost a pet once or twice in our life and it really breaks our heart when they pass. Why do our pets contract so many more illnesses and life threatening diseases than they did just 20 years ago? With the advances of veterinary medicine and the availability of vet clinics our pet's life span has risen in the last 20 years but the quality of life has not. There was a time that our pets just got old and died but now they get very sick for a long time, acquiring large vet. bills and linger on then die.
The best veterinary schools in the country, Cornell, Tufts and Penn University, studies have shown us that the main culprit is the lack of proper nutrition. A proper diet is very important in the care of all animal. Obesity is a very common and serious concern because it directly correlates to a decreased longevity, and may contribute to other problems. Proper nutritional management is a very important part of the care for your old dog, especially since it is something that you can control.
1. Behavioral and Cognitive Dysfunction. As dogs age they can become more “set in their ways.” more inflexible, less patient and more irritable. Sometimes they will forget learned behaviors including normal urinary and defecation habits. Older dogs may sleep a lot more, and be less responsive to external stimuli. These signs may be related to underlying disease, or may be due to the gradual decline in their senses and cognition (thought process). Sometimes medication can help. Processed food that is void of live enzymes and amino-acids do not provide the building blocks for proper brain development.
2. Cancer. Unfortunately, cancer is a significant problem facing dog and cats. Not all cancer needs to be fatal. Surgery, chemotherapy, even radiation therapy is available and can significantly extend your pet's quality time or produce a cure. The prognosis depends on the type and location of the cancer. The lack of anti-oxidants in processed food allow free radicals to destroy important cells in the body leaving it weak and vulnerable to cancer.
3. Urinary Incontinence. Older cats and dogs may sometimes become incontinent, leaking small or even large amounts of urine when lying down or when sleeping. Medications can sometimes help. Dogs and cats form kidney stones and urinary track infections due to the dehydrating nature of kibble food.
4. Diabetes. Aging dogs tend to have a higher risk of developing diabetes. Whether due to diet, poor insulin secretion or resistance to insulin, diabetic dogs can often be helped with medication.
5. Kidney Disease. Kidney disease is one of the most common metabolic diseases of older cats and some dogs. With early diagnosis through blood tests, some dogs can do quite well on a special diet and medications. The biggest key is to diagnose kidney disease early. This is one primary reason veterinarians recommend routine screening blood tests in older dogs.
6. Bladder Stones. Older dogs tend to have an increased risk of developing bladder stones. Often, these stones cause little problems but can cause an obstruction if the dog attempts to pass a large stone that becomes stuck in the urethra. Periodic abdominal X-rays can help determine if bladder stones are developing in your dog and if treatment is necessary.
7. Prostate Problems. If you have a male dog, he may be at risk of prostatic disease. Prostatic infections, abnormal enlargement, abscesses, and cysts are all potential problems in male dogs. Tumors of the prostate occur with equal frequency in both neutered and intact males.
8. Skin Tumors. Skin lumps and bumps are common findings on the elderly dog. On the basis of the size, location and aspiration results, your veterinarian may recommend removal of one or many skin masses. If not removed, monitor the lumps for changes in size or shape.
9. Heart Disease. The most common heart disease in the senior dog is chronic valvular heart disease. Thickening and irregularities of the valves of the heart may lead to abnormal blood flow within the heart chambers, eventually causing heart enlargement and heart failure. Early detection of this disease and proper therapy may slow the progression of the heart disease.
10. Arthritis. Degenerative joint disease, also known as arthritis, is another very common issue affecting aging dogs. While it is to be expected that older animals will tend to slow down with age, animals with arthritis may feel much more comfortable if appropriately treated. Signs of arthritis in dogs include difficulty rising, trouble climbing stairs or jumping, falling on slippery floors, having difficulty getting comfortable or being restless at night. There are many anti-inflammatory medications that your vet can prescribe that may improve your pet's quality of life and comfort level.
Other Concerns. As dogs and cats age, their organs also age and do not function as well as they once did. Various liver diseases are common in aging dogs, including cirrhosis. Another concern with elderly dogs is the potential to develop anemia. Whether associated with kidney disease, cancer, chronic disease or primary bone marrow disorders, anemia can cause your dog to be profoundly weak and, without treatment, may even become so severe that emergency medical help is needed. If you can imagine the effect of eating cereal and/or spam everyday would have on your health and quality of life, this is what happens when you feed kibble and/or commercial canned food to your pets. The astounding vet bills are waiting for you as your pet's immune system is broken down year after year of eating this type of diet. The heart ache and health care cost could be avoided by feeding a species specific whole food diet. Roll the dice or be pro-active! The choice is yours. The life span of a dog brought up on a whole food diet has been charted at up to 45% longer than one feed a commercial kibble based diet. Here is a brief listing of breeds and their average life span. Imagine how many more happy years these pets could be living with a 45% longer life span.
Life Spans By Breed
The following list of predicted life spans shows how long various breeds can live when fed properly.
9-12 years. Great Dane, Newfoundland, Cavalier King Charles spaniel. (Mitral valve disease may affect 50 percent of these toy spaniels in North America.)
9-12 years. St. Bernard, bloodhound, chow chow, boxer, French bulldog. (Von Willebrand's disease, akin to human hemophilia, can impede blood clotting in Frenchies.)
12-14 years. Airedale terrier, Dalmatian, golden retriever, German shepherd, Scottish terrier. (Scotties also may inherit von Willebrand's.)
13-15 years. Beagle, Bichon Frise, collie, Doberman, papillon, Pomeranian.
14-16 years. Boston terrier, cairn terrier, cocker spaniel, Welsh corgi, Irish setter, Parson Russell terrier, Maltese terrier, poodle (standard), schnauzer, shih tzu, West Highland White terrier, Yorkshire terrier.
15-18 years. Dachshund, poodle (miniature and toy), Chihuahua.
For more information regarding putting your pet on a whole food diet: