This edition of #askbiggervet is all about senior pets! Get answers to your questions about noisy breathing, spaying older female dogs, and dental care for seniors!
“Is noisy breathing in older dogs (12 years old) ever a normal occurrence? My dog snores and just has noisy breathing most of the time.”
Dr. Blakelock answers: Noisy breathing in older dogs is not uncommon, but it is not necessarily normal. It can be caused by various things such as laryngeal paralysis or an elongated soft palette. Any breathing changes should be evaluated by your veterinarian to make sure it is not anything serious and whether there is any treatment indicated.
If this still doesn’t work or your pet has dietary restrictions ask your veterinarian for other options.
“Do older female dogs experience doggie menopause? At what point is the risk greater than the benefit to spay an aged female? My 9 1/2 year old Komondor is having some weird symptoms I can’t figure out. I swear she was just in heat.”
Dr. Blakelock answers: Older intact female dogs are at risk for pyometra (infected uterus), which is life threatening and requires immediate surgery. Any changes warrant an examination by your veterinarian. As far as risk versus benefit if a dog is otherwise healthy than there should be minimal risk with spaying, while being intact is being at continuous risk for a pyometra.
“What are the risks and benefits of extensive dental treatment on an older (8+ years) dog? What are some things to try to improve dental health in general?”
Dr. Crocker answers:
Great question, Shannen!
This is an important topic because dental disease affects approximately 80% of dogs and cats, and many times it goes unnoticed by the pets’ owners.
If a pet is suffering from dental disease, usually the benefits of providing relief outweigh the risks. People are often concerned about the general anesthesia required to treat dental disease in pets. However, age by itself is not generally considered to be a risk factor. If your pet’s overall health is good, heart is normal, and testing reveals normal organ and bone marrow function, anesthetic risk is very low when performed with appropriate safety measures. Benefits of treating diseased teeth include improved energy level, improved quality of life, better breath, and removal of pain.
Pain is a tricky thing to measure in pets. Pets with dental disease will often suffer in silence and show minimal or no outward signs of distress. Dogs feel pain just like we do, they just don’t show their pain in obvious ways. So if a tooth root infection would hurt you, you can bet it will hurt your pet.
One reason I am so passionate about providing good dental health to pets is that I have seen first-hand the sometimes dramatic improvements in pets’ lives I can give them by treating their dental problems.
The best things owners can do to promote their pets’ dental health are to begin brushing their pets’ teeth early in life, while developing a strong routine to continue throughout the pet’s life, and to have their pets examined at least annually by their veterinarians to look for hidden signs of dental disease.
- #askbiggervet – October 15, 2014 (10/15/2014) - This edition of #askbiggervet is all about senior pets! Get answers to your questions about abnormal breathing, spaying older female dogs, and dental care for seniors!
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