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Looking after Golden Oldies
 
August 2014

 

It’s Sunday night and I am agonising over the fees on a new leaflet for preventative pet care for older dogs and cats.  My wife tires of me and sighs “what’s the problem?”  I explain that the costs seem so high and maybe we should offer fewer options to keep the cost down for owners.  “So what do you do for Milly (our dog)?” comes the reply.  The answer is simple - I do everything necessary and accept the costs as part of her care costs.  To me she is one of the family and I have been sworn to keep her alive until she is at least twenty-five by my son.

Since she was nine years old I have checked her urine and blood pressure twice a year and run a full blood screen on her birthday.  As she has got older my care has increased with blood samples being taken every six months and urine and blood pressure screens every three months.  Preventative health care is not about finding out what has already gone wrong with the body; it’s about finding out what is starting to play up.  As a result of early detection, treatments can be put in place to cure insidious problems, or diets can be altered to take the strain from the kidneys for example.  Healthy lives CAN be prolonged.  

Vaccination time presents the perfect opportunity to feel for lumps and bumps, check hearing and mobility as well as listen to the heart to check all is well.  I really like the definition of old age as being ‘an increased chance of things going wrong’.  That chance is exactly what we are looking for during these checks and hence as we get older, it is time for more checks. 

So what of Milly at the moment?  Well she is too embarrassed to discuss her entire medical history in public but she has said I can share with you her current regime.  Her diet is a special one designed for older dogs and that aims to keep her teeth clean.  Her meal is laced with a liquid anti-inflammatory to help her creaking joints, and also with a tablet to promote the blood supply to her organs and support her circulation (and reduce the risk of doggy strokes).  As a treat (well she thinks it is…) she gets a tablet to help her joints, containing a cocktail of nutritional products like Chondroitin and Glucosamine.  She also has a daily walk to keep her mobile and plays games to keep her mind active.  Almost as important as all of this is the fact her current weight is the same as it was when she was three years old.  Her sylph-like figure helps keep the strain off her heart and joints and for this fourteen year old the day is as much fun as when she was a pup.  That said, I still have to keep her happy for at least another eleven years…

Please remember that no one ever became ill from a check-up.  Hmmm…perhaps I should have one before Milly has her next BUPA-style screening!

- Jeremy MA VetMB MRCVS