process of aging is an unfortunate side effect of life.
This holds true for all living creatures, but there are
mysteries associated with aging ó including how fast
it all takes place. Why for instance does a Galapagos
tortoise live for 200 years while a field mouse only
lives for 3? Even within the same species of animals,
there can be wide variations in the rate of the aging
brings us to this weekís question. Ellen from Modesto
takes care of Rondo, a 9-year-old Labrador retriever and
Petunia, a 12-year-old silky terrier. Both of Ellenís
companions are doing just fine, although Ellen does
notice a big difference in activity between the two
dogs. Rondo, although very eager, is less able to run
around and play compared to a few years ago. The same
does not seem to be the case for Petunia. Ellen feels
age is catching up to Rondo but doesnít understand why
the older Petunia isnít showing a similar reduction in
letís assume that there are no underlying health
problems for Rondo or Petunia and that Ellenís
observances do relate to age changes. Itís possible
that Rondo might have a health problem that could lead
to his change in activity, which would need an
examination by his vet.
purely in reference to aging, this is a prime example of
the difference in rates within the same species. Rondo
is aging, at least in activity, faster than Petunia,
which tends to be the case with larger breeds of dogs.
Itís a generalization, but one that bares truth.
of us have heard that a dogís year of life is
equivalent to 7 years in a humanís. This is actually
not the case. In fact the aging process is not at all
linear. A dogís geriatric years vary widely depending
on the breed and the aging process can be dramatic,
seeming to occur right before our eyes in some
instances. There are simply no generalities to be had
itís true that we canít stop the aging process ó
and as I watched my own companion dealing with multiple
age-related issues, I wished we could ó there are
things we can do as caretakers that might slow it a bit
or at the very least make it more tolerable.
nutrition and exercise are, I believe, the most
important factors in our companionsí quality of life.
There are supplements that can improve life quality and
medications formulated to address some of the changes
associated with aging, such as arthritis and secondary
our pets age, there are changes in their bodies
associated with the process. There also are diseases
that occur more readily in older patients distinguished
from aging. Thatís why regular examination and
geriatric testing is important. Anytime we can discover
a disease before it takes over, the better chance of
curtailing and sometimes eliminating it.
on the breed, I recommend basic diagnostic testing in
older patients. This includes blood tests to check the
kidneys and liver, among other things, as well as
radiology (x-rays) of the abdomen and chest.
your companion is aging, consider having a geriatric
work-up. I cannot tell you how many times I have been
rewarded after performing these tests and found an
illness that was treated before it became serious.
Equally rewarding are the times when I could tell a
client that their companionís diagnostic tests
revealed no problems.