Joints and Arthritis

Senior Dogs & Dogs with Limited Mobility- Joints and Arthritis

 

Tips to help an older dog, or one with limited mobility.

Around the House

  1. Make sure that their bed is in a warm place, and with lots of padding and cushioning to protect their joints.
  2. If you have slippery floors, put down non-skid mats or runners, and keep their nails short. Long nails can cause slipping because your dog does not have a proper full padded grip on the ground.
  3. Use ramps to access furniture, steps and the car.
  4. Raise their bowl up off from the floor, so that they do not have to bend to eat.
  5. If they are particularly sore, block their access to stairs to prevent injury.
  6. If they have become too stiff to take themselves out to the toilet, there are products designed to help.
  7. Sore dogs are often bored dogs. Unable to run around and sniff any more, they can end up over-grooming just to pass the time. Get some good quality interactive toys to keep them busy
  8. There are many supplements that will help with joint health and well being. Most come in powder or chew forms that can be used as a treat or sprinkled over their dinner. Look for a product that contains glucosamine and chondroitin. These two ingredients are clinically proven to reduce inflammation.
  9. Keeping them up and moving strengthens their muscles and stabilises their joints. Swimming is a great, impact free sport. Use a lifejacket, as they don’t have the mobility or stamina of a younger dog.
  10. Feed them a good quality, complete food designed for joint health.
  11. Massage your dogs lower back, and back hips as often as you can to help increase blood flow and lessen the effect of spinal degeneration.
  12. If you believe your dog to be in pain, please see your vet.

For more advice and assistance on specific, joint care products, please see one of our store team members.

Worms

Sadly, worms are a part of life.  Handily prevention and treatment of canine worms is not difficult
There are two main types of worms in dogs, intestinal and heart.   Heartworm is an endemic problem in Australia and results in a fatal illness.  Please ensure you treat your dog for both types of worms.

Different types of Canine worms

Heartworms – transmitted by mosquitoes. During their lifecycle, heartworms make their way through the blood stream to the heart and lungs of your dog. There, they can block up the blood vessels and cause coughing, weight loss, fatigue and eventual heart failure. Because the signs are so subtle at first, they can often go unnoticed for a significant period of time.

Intestinal worms – including whipworms, hookworms, tapeworms and roundworms. They can be passed on through flea bites, from mother to puppy, or by picking up eggs from the environment. All cause varying symptoms, generally fatigue and weight loss, and a lacklustre appearance.

How To Avoid Them
There are many products that will control both intestinal and heartworms. Many of these come in tasty chew form.

If you are using separate heartworm prevention such as the annual vaccination from your vet, you can use a product that only treats intestinal worms.  This can be in the form of a tablet or chew and may need to be hidden in food. Dogs who are loathe to take medication will need to be dosed manually. Please ask for advice if your dog has issues taking medication.

For added protection, some products control intestinal worms, heartworms and fleas. Remember that you will still need to use an added tick protection, especially during the summer months.

Please ask one of our store team members for advice on which product is appropriate for your dog.

Weight Management

About 50% of dogs in Australia are categorized as overweight or obese.

A healthy weight is breed specific, what is a healthy weight for a toy poodle may not be for a Chihuahua.

Health Issues Caused By Weight

  • Arthritis – just a little extra weight, puts added stress on joints, bones and ligaments, and can make daily living painful for a dog.
  • Diabetes – dogs can develop an inability to process sugar or carbohydrates. Diabetes is a life threatening disease with many complications, and requires daily management.
  • Heart – an increased blood pressure causes the heart to have to work much harder. Combine this with higher cholesterol levels and fatty deposits in the blood vessels and you have a recipe for a heart attack.
  • Heat intolerance – dogs cannot sweat as humans can, and with all that extra insulation, panting to lose heat can become more and more difficult.
  • Immune function – fatter dogs lose the ability to fight off diseases, and can also become more susceptible to cancer.

Managing Weight

  • Cut back on the treats. Human food in particular can be fattening to a dog. A single Frankfurt cut up and used for training is the equivalent of a human eating 3 hamburgers in one go. Use light canine treats instead.
  • Use weight loss food rather than maintenance – some high quality kibble designed for weight loss will keep them feeling full without the calories.
  • Weigh out his meals and then put it into a treat pouch to use during the day. You can then easily use the allotted amount and any leftover goes in his bowl at night. If he gets treats during the day and then his full dinner afterwards at night, weight gain is inevitable.
  • Use interactive food toys – having him work for his food will make him take longer to eat it, expend energy getting it out, as well as leave him feeling more satisfied.
  • Is he getting food elsewhere? – Neighbours over the fence, raiding the bins, eating the cat’s food or from other family members. Try not to allow the dog around the dinner table, particularly if you have children. If you have to, use a crate or a baby gate.
  • Exercise – particularly important, there are lots of fun ways to get active together.
  • When using food as a training tool make sure you cut back on actual meals, giving your dog less at meal times instead of the same amount.

Ticks

Tick control is one of the most important things you can do for your dogs’ health. In certain parts of Australia, ticks are a major cause of dog death every year, particularly during the summer months.  Make a tick prevention regime part of your dogs life.

What Are They?
Ticks are arachnids related to spiders. They have 8 legs and a large abdomen. They feed by burrowing their head into the skin of an animal. All that can be seen is a rounded abdomen sticking out of the body which will swell with blood as the tick feeds on the host animal. Unfed they can be as small as 3mm and when fed, up to 1.5cm.

Tick season is generally September to March, but they can be found at any time of year. If a tick attaches to your pet, the poison found in their salivary glands is extremely toxic. Be particularly vigilant during the warmer months.

Signs to Look Out For
Tick poisoning causes ‘ascending paralysis’ or a gradual loss of ability to use their muscles, starting from the bottom of the dog and moving upwards. This is why the most often seen sign is a loss of ability to use the back legs or walk up stairs. Look out for:

·       A change in their voice – the bark becomes softer or higher pitched.

·       Weakness in the backlegs – sitting down suddenly is a common early sign.

·       Vomiting – particularly if it is frothy.

As the symptoms worsen, you may see:

·       Wobbliness in the hips and back legs, and eventually an inability to stand.

·       Excessive drooling and vomiting.

·       Panting and loud, strenuous breathing.

·       A moist sounding cough.

If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, then it is very important to take them to your vet as soon as possible. The earlier that tick poisoning is treated, the better the outcome is likely to be. On the way to the vet, try to keep your pet still, quiet and cool. Do not give them anything to eat or drink.

Every Day
Search your pet from top to bottom. Feel against the fur, starting at the head, and move backwards until you reach the tip of the tail. Make sure you check around the ears, eyes and mouth, and between the pads and even up their nose. Common places that ticks can be missed are under collar or chin, along the gum line and around the bottom area. If you find a tick, call your local vet right away.

Product Options
1.     Washes: These are a relatively inexpensive option, but need applying as regularly as every few days, and will wash off in water.

2.     Sprays. Last up to 3 weeks and are waterproof. However, it can be difficult to apply to wriggling dogs, as it requires them to be sprayed thoroughly all over.

3.     Spot On Treatments: Applied to the back of the neck, they will protect against ticks for two weeks. The dog needs to be kept dry two days before and two days after application, to allow the product to disburse through the sebaceous glands. Daily swimming will gradually reduce their effectiveness, as will UV light and sand moving through the coat.

4.     Tick Collars: Lasting from 1 to 3 months dependent on brand, these are effective but some can leave a residual smell. They are powder coated and the powder is removed by water. This means the dog cannot swim or be out in the rain, for the collar to remain effective. Shouldn’t be used on dogs that will chew at the collar.

5.      Chewable, combined flea and tick control, administered orally and effective for a whole month. Not affected by swimming or bathing. Palatable tablet which reaches full efficiency after only eight hours.

Keeping up to date with your chosen product greatly reduces the risk of tick poisoning, however you should still check your pet every day.

Please speak to one of our store team members as to which product might be most suitable for you and your dog.

Removing Ticks

 

If you have found a tick on your dog, what should you do. Here are some tips.

Do

Call your vet for advice, or take the dog to them down to remove it, if you don’t feel comfortable.

Don’t

Remove a tick from around the eyes, inside the ears or mouth yourself – consult a vet instead.

Do

Use tweezers or ideally a tick hook/twister.

Don’t

Use your fingers or squeeze the abdomen of the tick. This can squeeze more toxins into your dog.

Do

Grasp it as close to the skin as possible, and twist clockwise. Pull gently but firmly, with a consistent pressure.

Don’t

Apply any home remedies such as Vaseline or methylated spirits. They may kill the tick, but over a number of hours, and it will inject more poison as it dies.

Do

Kill the tick after removing. Putting it still alive in the bin allows it the chance to crawl back out and attach again. They are surprisingly resilient. If you are worried and would like to take your dog to the vet, kill the tick and put it inside a small zip lock plastic bag. Take the bag to the vet so that they can identify the tick.

Fleas

Fleas are parasites that feed on blood. Dog fleas cannot live on humans but will often bite us before realising their mistake. Many dogs suffer from flea allergy dermatitis. This means that they are allergic to the saliva of the flea and may continue to itch even after the flea is gone.

Know Your Enemy

At any point in time, only 5% of the flea population in your house is actively on your dog. This means that if you treat them and kill 20 fleas, there are still 380 ready to jump back on.

50% of the flea population is still in egg form. These eggs are resistant to flea products and will hatch in approximately 2 weeks. They can also lie dormant in the environment for as long as a year, waiting for the right conditions to hatch.

Treat the Environment First
That is why it’s so important to treat the whole house and not just your pet. Start by vacuuming – you will remove a great deal of eggs, larvae and adults this way. Along the baseboards, all over and under the furniture, and any bedding. When washing bedding, use hot water.  The heat retards the eggs and distorts their growth, making it more difficult to hatch.

Use a flea product designed for inside, such as a bomb, fogger or aerosol, to eradicate any remaining fleas and their eggs.

Keep Up to Date
There are many products available to treat fleas. Using them regularly will help to create a flea free environment for you and your dog.

Monthly tablets or chews are quick and easy, and are extremely effective.  These can range from a one off treatment to a monthly pill.

If your pet is fussy about what goes in their mouth, try a spot on treatment  These will also kill fleas for up to a month and are required to be squeezed on the skin at the back of their neck. No baths or swimming for 48 hours before or after application.

Flea control sprays or rinses might also suit you and last for a week.

Preventing Re-infestation
Every time you take your dog out of your home, or your dog runs in your yard it can pick up more fleas, especially if you live in an area where bandicoots and possums frequent.  Each time your dog plays with another dog it can pick up fleas.  The only way to ensure the effect of fleas is minimized, is to follow the previously mentioned steps and to physically check your dogs for evidence of fleas, such as their “dirt”.

Please speak to one of our store team members, for advice on specific products.

De-sexing

There are many benefits to de-sexing your male or female dog. In male dogs, it can cause less territory marking, which means he will pee less frequently on walks. For a female dog, being in “season” causes the vulva to drip blood, which attracts male dogs from miles around.

Males

When you walk an “intact” male dog he will mark his territory. He may also demonstrate aggressive or dominant behaviour towards other dogs. Marking can also occur in the home.

Male dogs who are not being shown or used for breeding should be desexed. Most vets recommend desexing at around six months of age. Some large and/or giant breeds are desexed later than six months. This allows these bigger dogs a brief flow of testosterone, to assist in their growth.

In terms of health, desexing will reduce the risk of testicular cancer, as well as reduce the occurrence of prostate cancer and other diseases.

Females

Female dogs in season exhibit bloody discharge and a clearly swollen vulva. This is unsightly and unhygienic around the home. Undesexed females should not be taken out of the house whilst in season, if it can be avoided.

In terms of health, de-sexing will help eliminate the risk of uterine cancer, as well as relatively common infections of the uterus, false pregnancies and other sexual related diseases. The chance of mammary cancers developing as they get older is also greatly reduced.

Are There Any Negatives?

Some females will be more prone to gaining weight after being desexed. However, a healthy diet and normal amounts of exercise can help to avoid this problem.

The Procedure

If you would like more information about what happens before, during and after your pet’s surgery, speak to your local vet. They are more than happy to provide you with all the information you need, and most will have fact sheets for you to read.

 

 

Dental

Despite what many people might think, chronic doggy breath is not normal. Nor is it something your dog needs to live with. Doggy breath can be a sign of rotting teeth, as well as gum and periodontal disease. There are breeds of dogs, especially smaller breeds, which are predisposed to teeth issues, but it can happen to any dog, at any age. Choosing the right food products for your dog at a young age, can reap long term benefits. There are numerous reasons for doggy breath, including genetic predisposition and breed. There are also many ways you can help your dogs breath smell sweeter.

Here are some of them:

  • The number one way to keep your pets teeth clean is to brush them, just as your brush your own. Use a double sided toothbrush and a specially designed doggy toothpaste, and begin very slowly. At first, just some toothpaste on the finger and rubbing it around the gums for a few seconds will be all they can tolerate. But, with a little patience, treats and building up slowly, eventually you should be able to brush their whole mouth.
  • Daily dental chews are a fantastic way to help clean their teeth. One after meals will dislodge all the food and leave them with a clean mouth.
  • Raw bones will also have the same effect. Many dogs can occupy themselves for a long time chewing away.
  • Soluble products can be added to their drinking water, which contain enzymes that will help remove tartar build up.
  • There are also dry foods designed for your dogs oral care. These foods will contain cross-woven fibres that clean the teeth as they are chewed,  along with tartar removing enzymes.
  • An annual dental check up at the vets will keep them in tip top shape. If you have become behind on your oral care, a cleaning may be necessary to bring their mouth back into perfect health.

For more information about how to best care for your dogs teeth and gums, please talk to one of our store team members