A New Aging Project Targeting Your Senior Canine to Help Senior Dogs Everywhere
Who doesn’t love the cute spry little puppy? Their little wiggles and floppy ears, still trying to figure out the whole tail thing. The chewing on toys while teething, all the training, the potty accidents…. Oh wait! While puppies have so many amazing qualities, there are some things about our older doggy companions that are worth cherishing too! They truly love their people, they are oh so loyal and none of this potty training business. Unfortunately, the older they get, the more medical issues we tend to see; but with the better care we give them, we tend to see them age a little bit more graceful. As your veterinarian, we love seeing your wonderful old pets age gracefully so we can enjoy as many years with them as possible. However, sometimes the data on what to expect as your beloved dog ages is limited. There is so much we still don’t know about life expectancies, where their risks for specific illness lie, how to best prevent the illnesses we do know about.
Fortunately, the University of Washington is heading up a new project aimed at documenting many of the factors and risks associated with dog aging. The Dog Aging Project has a goal of enrolling 10,000 dogs into a national study to identify genetic and environmental factors contributing to healthy aging. Some of the lucky participants will also have the opportunity to be elected for trials on new medications transitioning from human medicine into veterinary medicine, in hopes of extending a healthy and happy life span for our silver furry citizens. As of now, the study is just looking for information from their participants. Your pet will still see their same vet (lucky us!) and will not need to travel. Your veterinarian may, however, share some medical history and collect lab samples for your participation in the study if they are selected. You can nominate your pet here if you are interested. If you don’t have a pet that meets the senior criteria, you can also donate to this great cause.
For now, while we wait for this study to produce their results and spectacular plethora of information, we will keep promoting what we do know. If you have a dog over the age of 7, they are considered senior pets and we recommend biannual health examinations by your veterinarian. We recommend your pet have lab work, such as a complete blood count, serum chemistry and urinalysis, performed at least annually for healthy pets. If your dog has any illnesses, we may recommend these tests more frequently. We recommend you feed your pets a good, well rounded diet; preferably one from a veterinary tested brand and approved for your senior pets specific life stage needs. Finally, we recommend you come see us at the first sign of illness. We want to see your pets age as easy as possible so we can keep loving on them too! For more information, see the American Veterinary Medical Associations informational page on senior dogs here, or visit The Dog Aging Project website here.
By Theresa Murillo, DVM
All Pets Animal Hospital