When we get a little older, there are certain things that we might experience that just weren't heard of when we were pups. Here's a few of them!
As our bodies age, our bones get a bit thinner and a bit more brittle. Eventually we might start to ache in our joints. Mornings are usually more painful, since through the night we're apt to lie there without moving much. The muscles stiffen up when they're not moved. And those joints just seem to want to stay put when we'd rather them move and bend!
The hips are primarily effected by Arthritis. And they say that's pretty painful. If you hear an older dog whining or groaning when they try to move or stand up, it could be due to Arthritis. The good news is that there's medications that will relieve the pain and stiffness, making them more comfortable.
Usually your Dog Doctor will prescribe some type of anti-inflamatory for Arthitis, which lessens the inflamation and swelling. Be sure your humans check with your Vet before giving ANY medications for this condition. There are some medications which can poison us, so don't take anything your Vet hasn't said to take!
This is one of the most suffered diseases in the dog world! It all starts with a tiny gland located in the brain: the PITUITARY GLAND.
The pituitary produces something called ATCH, a hormone that encourages the adrenel gland to get busy and make cortisones. An excess amount of cortisones do all sorts of stuff to our bodies. It causes enlargement of the liver, decreases hair growth, thins the skin, increases appetite and thirst, decreases muscle mass, regulates the mineral content in the blood, and increases the size of the abdomen. Because of the excess cortisones,an ATCH-producing tumor can form in the pituitary gland.
And this is Cushings Disease, or 'hyperadrenocorticism'.
Because of the increased appetite and thirst, we'll eat and drink more; gaining weight and having to urinate more than usual. Because Cushing's Disease decreases muscle mass, our limbs will weaken and eventually can be debilitating. It decreases also the amount of connective tissue needed to stablize our joints, so the joints can really start to ache something terrible. Due to the condition increasing the size of our abdomen, we end up with a pot-bellied tummy - not very attractive!
One form of Cushing's Disease is actually MAN-MADE.
When our humans accidently give us too much corticosteroid supplement, it can cause the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands and the whole body to make some serious mistakes - resulting in too many cortisones - resulting in Cushing's Disease. Now I better add that it's not always the Human's fault. Somtimes we might have to take some medication for another disease, but that medication can cause the same effects as overdosing of the steroidal supplement.
Here are the symptoms of Cushing's Disease. Have your human read over them carefully, but tell them not to jump to conclusions. There are some symptoms listed which can also be symptoms for other diseases. Best bet is to go to your Vet with any of the symptoms so you can be checked out completely!
MOST COMMON SYMPTOMS INCLUDE
a) increased/excessive thirst and drinking (polydipsia)
b) increased/excessive urination (polyuria)
c) urinary accidents in previously housetrained dogs
d) increased/excessive appetite (polyphagia)
e) food stealing/guarding, begging, trash dumping, etc.
f) sagging, bloated, pot-bellied appearance
g) weight gain or its appearance due to fat redistribution
h) loss of muscle mass, giving the appearance of weight loss
i) bony, skull-like appearance of head
j) exercise intolerance, lethargy, general or hind-leg weakness
k) new reluctance to jump on furniture or people
l) excess panting, seeking cool surfaces to rest on
m) symmetrical thinning of hair or baldness (alopecia) on torso
n) other coat changes like dullness or dryness
o) slow regrowth of hair after clipping
p) thin, wrinkled, fragile, and/or darkly pigmented skin
q) easily damaged/bruised skin that heals slowly
r) hard, calcified lumps in the skin (calcinosis cutis)
s) susceptibility to infections (especially skin and urinary)
t) diabetes, pancreatitis, seizures
TREATMENT OF CUSHING'S DISEASE
How Cushing's Disease is treated depends a lot on the health of the dog and the type of Cushing's Disease he or she has.
Most of the time the dogs with Cushing's Disease are elderly dogs. There might be other problems they're suffering, so treatment can be tricky! If you have arthritis, it might just be smarter and more comfortable for you to not have treatment.
Chemotherapy can be administered through Lysodren, or Ketaconazole may be used to treat pituitary-dependent or adrenal-based Cushing's, or Anipryl can be used to fight pituitary-dependent Cushing's.
If Cushing's Disease is caused by an adrenal tumor, they will have to surgically remove the tumor and the affected adrenal gland. These tumors tend not to recur on the remaining adrenal gland, and prognosis is very good for dogs with benign adrenal tumors.
Radiation is used sometimes to treat Pituitary Macroadenomas (tumors). The job of the radiation is to shrink the tumors and that will help with the neurological problems caused by the pressure they can place on the tissue of the brain. But radiation is really expensive and it might not be easy for lots of older dogs.
Bottom line is this: the treatment may not be imporant to have in order for us to live longer lives as much as it can make us live better lives. And our comfort is really the most important thing, right? Now, it's not the end of the world if you have Cushing's Disease!
Or at least, it doesn't have to be.
If caught early enough, the prognosis is actually pretty good! It might take about six months or so, but you'll start feeling better in time. And in a few more months, your hair will start coming in nice and shiny and your coat can start getting back to normal. If it's caught early enough, you can live for a long, long time.
It's when it isn't caught that it can be dangerous. If it isn't caught, it just keeps getting worse and worse until one day, you're fighting for your very life. You might end up developing other things like thyroid problems, diabetes, hypertension, blood clotting, congestive heart, liver, and kidney failure.
So what else can I say? Get checked out!
And do it NOW!Every Senior Dog should be sure to visit their Vet at least once a year just to play it safe. There's a lot of diseases out there besides Arthritis. Other diseases that are seen in older dogs are Diabetis, Cushing's disease, cancer, and kidney, heart, and liver diseases. Your Dog Doc might want to take some blood to test. He can then tell which disease might be present, if any, and then treat it.
No matter the disaese though, there are some things that YOU and your HUMAN can do to help prevent and/or improve the condition.
Here's a list I found on The Senior Dogs Project Website: http://www.srdogs.com.
Here's a list of things you should do NOW to be sure you're healthy LATER!
1. WATCH YOUR WEIGHT!
Eat the right foods and in the right amount. Extra weight is hard on the bones!
2. CLEAN THOSE TEETH!
Be sure you keep your teeth clean. Periodontal Disease is one of the most commonly diseases seen by a Vet!
3. SEE YOUR DOC REGULARLY!
Be sure not to skip your check-ups!
You know that saying: A check-up with Doc will keep ya a JOCK!
4. WATCH FOR ANY SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS!
Make sure you know all about the diseases and sympyoms so that you can let your Humans and Dog Doctors know if you are having symptoms!
"SUDDEN ACQUIRED RETINAL DEGENERATION"
Somewhere between the age of 7yrs and 14yrs, you might have trouble with loss of vision, and it just might be due to Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration...or SARDS. It seems to attack the female even more than the male, but males get it too. It's somthing that just happens! One minute you can see - the next you can't. At least our humans usually don't have a clue that it's happening. SARDS is weird and usually you'll get really thirsty and hungry - like you can't get enough water or food. Of course, that means you'll start gaining some weight too. Sometimes you'll even start losing some of your ability to hear and smell! (I told ya it's weird!)
It's really, really important that you learn all you can about SARDS...know the symptoms and know a good doctor that will run all the tests to get to the real root of the problem. You can check out these sites for more detailed information on SARDS, tests for SARDS, treatment and prognosis info.
Whatever ya do - do something! This is no slight disorder! Check out the sites and when in doubt - see a doc!
LEARNING ABOUT & DIAGNOSING SARDS