Caring For Your Old Dog

Caring for your old dog

It’s hard to exactly how long your beloved pooch will live because it all depends on breed, care and background. However, on average, dogs live to around 12 years old (in human years, that is). Of course, some can live much longer than this, twelve is the average age, with seven years old being classed as middle aged. So how do you make sure your old dog gets the best care in his old age and lives a long and happy last few years. Well, we have compiled some advice to help you achieve a healthy and happy existence for your maturing best friend.


Dogs are a bit like humans in this sense. The older they get the more comfortable they want to be. As such, you should make sure your dogs has a gorgeously comfy bed that is away from the humdrum of the house and away from any draughts that could give them the shivers. Imagine where you would want to be, and go from there. The other thing you should take into consideration is the floor surrounding their bed. If it’s slippery, then rethink the positioning or buy a nice thick and stable rug that will allow them to maneuver without issue.

The other area of similarity between old dogs and old people can be made in their changing toilet needs. Old dogs will start needing ‘to go’ a lot more frequently as they grow old. As such, it is important you make note of any changes and discuss these with your doctor so that they can inform you of how to best address the issue.


This is such an important change to make. You need to adapt to your dog’s requirements, and that means ensuring they have everything they could possibly want and need close to their bed. Food, water, and toys are the main three things in this respect.

Feeding Habits

As a dog matures, you will need to consider how their dietary requirements may change. The best way to address these new needs is to speak to your vet, who will be able to advise you based on breed, weight, activity and health. But a pretty solid rule of thumb is, when your dog reaches middle age, start thinking about a putting them onto a diet designed for older dogs.

Other things you should be addressing are their dental hygiene. Dogs need strong and healthy teeth, so do your due diligence on what dental treats are out there for your doggy. It is also important to take into consideration any other dogs you may have in your home. For example, if you have a puppy, who is sprightly and full of energy, make sure your older dog doesn’t have to compete with him for food. This isn’t fair on them. The same goes for water. You should have a separate water bowl for your older dog, which you should monitor closely. Any concerns you have about their water intake should be discussed with your vet.

A pretty weird day at vet school

Extracted P3 teeth from dog

Todays Diary Entry Is Sponsored by Supreme Petfoods

The best way I think to describe today is weird, it’s given me a lot of food for thought and some positives and negatives. Some things here I am deliberately vague on to protect patient confidentially however I am trying to share as much as I can.

So it all started early this morning with the start of my stomatology (aka diseases of the mouth) training. We started in with lecture shortly after 7am which was pretty interesting, started with diagnosis, then onto treatment and instruments with a little bit on how type of food can also affect dental disease. From this we then went straight into practical prepping and carrying out dentals under supervision.

Somehow here I ended up alone with a large breed dog being told that a tooth needed extraction and asked if I wanted to do it. Off course it was an instant yes (I’ve only ever read about extractions before) however there was periodontitis present with the gap between the roots showing  The biggest challenge here for me was working out just how much force I should use, I ended getting the doctor to demonstrate one whilst I did the second tooth alone. This was complicated by the fact that during this time I was also responsible for the anaesthetic and had to monitor the dog whilst doing the extraction as I was alone in the room.

I then jumped into surgery to observe the plating of a tibia fracture in a cat, this went without any problems and the cat recovered nicely with the ability to bear weight on the leg.

Coming out of this surgery it was lunchtime and I walked into a resus of a cat that had stopped breathing which was where my day really got very interesting. The cat was being manually ventilated and had a strong heart rate (mainly due to drugs), I like basics so asked what the temperature was and it hadn’t been checked as there were not enough people. Trying to check this with my thermometer I just got a “Lo” reading so assumed my battery was flat, however grabbing the thermometer from the consult room I got exactly the same thing and realised that there really was a problem.

Now I faintly remember reading somewhere my thermometer reads between 28 – 50 degrees, so for the temperature to register as “Lo” it would have to be below this with severe hypothermia. This started us warming both with peritoneal fluids, IV fluids and external heat sources to start the raise the temperature. This was actually very interesting to be a part of as temperature change did occur very slowly and being the only student in the building I ended up bagging (breathing for) the cat for the next 3 hours until we could get a ventilator working. Now during this time I was also monitoring the cat, and trying to get spontaneous respiration.

I started to do neurological exams as the temperature started to rise as I really wanted something positive to show me the cat would be ok. I got a strong retraction reflex on both the hindlimb to squeezing the toes and reflex when checking the temperature anally. However there were no other reflexes on front limbs, over thorax, or corneal. The weirdest moment for me came when I checked the pupil light reflex for the first time and got nothing.

Often times on TV medical drama’s you get the line “Pupils fixed and dilated”, this was what came out of my mouth here. I had never before today considered that it’d be something I would say, I had never actually considered the possibility that animals could enter a coma like state (we do not have the machine to test for brain activity so I am not comfortable just calling it a coma). The cat was on life support, if we switched of the ventilator the cat’s heart would stop, and the cat would die.

Ethically how far should we as vets go? It would have been possible (with manpower) to keep the cat on the ventilator indefinitely… Yet even with humans coma’s are not well understood. Personally for me, without having the equipment to monitor brain activity, or the knowledge here I feel that keeping any animal in a coma state is crossing a line. However if the equipment is there, then maybe it is only right we do as much as we can?

I’d welcome your comments and thoughts on this…

The start of Anatomy II, a look inside the mouth… (Day 157)

Pulvinus Dentalis - The dental pad in the cow and ruminants

Today’s Diary Entry sponsored by Spikes World Ltd

Well now that I know the bones, muscles and ligaments it is time to learn about everything else that actually makes the body work. The start of this is with Splanchnology which is the study of viscera or soft internal organs of the body. Today started at 7am with the anatomy lecture which was looking at the structures of the mouth, tongue and teeth which was pretty interesting (and a relatively easy topic to learn before we start the stomach next week).

Now the mouth is where digestion starts, with the teeth being responsible for the mastication or mechanical breakdown of food and a wide range of glands secreting digestive enzymes and saliva to help the process. Now within the mouth there are two cavities, the space inside the teeth, and the space between the teeth to the lips and cheeks. Within the space inside the teeth (Cavum oris proprium) there is the tongue which has a range of different types of glands at various positions and in varying numbers depending on the species. In fact the actual shape of the tongue even varies within species with the tongue of a horse containing cartilage, the tongue of the dog having a groove in the middle, and the tongue of the cow being split into two parts divided by.a groove across the middle.

There is also the mouth to pay attention to with the hard palate forming the roof of it lined with ridges across it and off course the teeth Now some of you may already know that ruminants (cows) actually do not have upper front teeth. Instead the have a hard pad made from tough tissue called the pulvinus dentalis. Wanna see it? Thought you would so here goes maybe my one and only dissection picture ever!

Pulvinus Dentalis - The dental pad in the cow and ruminantsAs you can see it looks almost like the same material as horns at the front where the incisors normally are, you also have papilla along the sides which help with movement of food. At the front if you can look closely you can see that there is something that looks like an upside down “v” – this is the papilla incisiva which are the openings for the ductus incisivi which secrete digestive juices.

There are several classes of teeth when it comes to animals, with some animals having combinations of more than one type.

  • Brachyodont – Where the tooth has stopped growing after reaching a certain point and its surface wears down with use. This type of tooth is divided into the crown, body and root and is the type of teeth that humans have.
  • Hypsodont – Where the tooth never stops growing (as long as the animal is alive) which means that it does not have a crown, instead it is just divided into the root and body. The most common examples are the teeth in rodents, rabbits, and more exotically the tusks of the boar or elephant!
  • Semihypsodont – Where the tooth continues to grow until it starts to wear out, the most common example are the incisors of the horse. This has the benefit of the tooth growing so that the surfaces of the teeth perfectly meet allowing the cutting of fine grass.

The patterns of the occlusial surface (the part that meets with the opposite upper or lower tooth allowing chewing) actually also vary among different species, with some being multitubercular where it has bumps or bunodont where it is flat. These are also divided into selenodont where it has moon like patterns, or lophodont where it has folds and ridges.