Managing minor health issues for aging dogs


Sometimes we get lucky with our dog's health issues, and they aren't major. They might just be part of a normal process such as aging. Not everything requires serious medication or prescription diets. Some problems can be handled using supplements, topical treatments, holistic remedies or food changes.

We all get older and so do our dogs. Some of the same ailments of aging plague both, specifically, those aching joints.

Supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and hyaluronic acid are helpful. Adding others can increase the effectiveness of such supplements.

Dasuquin is a joint supplement that has some of the above and also another ingredient made from soybeans and avocado oils, which helps to slow the progression of joint deterioration.

Another is Duralactin, which is made from milk whey protein to help reduce inflammatory response.

In addition to changing foods to develop a stronger immune system from the digestive tract, adding probiotics can help to keep the stomach and intestines healthy and regular.

Probiotics come in granules and hard or soft flavored chews. They can be used once a day. A small amount of pumpkin added to the diet can also keep the digestive system healthy, but too much upsets normal bowel processes.

Some people use yogurt. However, just a few spoonfuls are not sufficient in the correct probiotics, and if your dog eats too much you will have the opposite effect: diarrhea.

There are several foods on the market that might also set your dog's digestion on the right path. Examples include Wholehearted Salmon & Pea, Nature's Recipe Salmon Pumpkin and Sweet Potato, Natural Balance fish or venison, and Blue Buffalo Basics turkey and potato. Turkey is very mild on the digestive tract, as are venison and fish.

Natural Balance vegetarian can be used for dogs that are allergic to meat proteins.

Food, shampoo and supplements can really improve the quality of your dog's outer self. Changing food to increase Omega 3-6-9 and reducing certain types of grains can help maintain skin and coat. Look for foods that have a fish base or fish oils within the top five ingredients.

Add a fish oil supplement twice a day to their diet. Brush the dog regularly to stimulate natural oils in the skin and the fur next to the skin.

When you bathe your dog, use a hydrating shampoo or one with aloe. If the skin is itchy and sensitive, not allergy related, use tea tree oil. Oatmeal shampoo also is good for itchy skin but can be drying. Don't bathe too often or it continues to dry out the skin and coat.

Summer hot spots require constant treatment. Shave the area or cut the fur to expose the skin for treatment. Clean with hydrogen peroxide. Damp dry then apply Vetricyn spray three times a day. It will dry it up in no time.

If you think there are more serious health issues, consult your veterinarian.

Abby Bird is owner of Alpha Dog Obedience Training.

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