Cushing’s Disease In Elderly Dogs
For many dogs, Cushing’s begins when they enter their elderly years. According to the American Kennel Club, “almost all patients are older than eight years when Cushing’s disease develops.” Many symptoms of Cushing’s can be mistaken for aging so often the development of the disease is overlooked until it is in an advanced stage. The key is to know your pet and watch for signs then determine a care plan that will help deal with the symptoms of Cushing and their age.
Caring for an aging dog requires a watchful eye and loving heart. The good news is the American Veterinary Medical Foundation reported that pets are generally living longer, healthier lives due to advances in veterinary care and dietary changes. There are some key practices you can try to help an elderly dog live a more vibrant life even if they are diagnosed with Cushing’s disease.
Older dogs in general need food that is easy to digest. Cushing’s dogs may greatly benefit from a diet that balances kibble with whole food additions like yogurt and softened vegetables. Elderly Cushing’s dogs may even do best on a grain free diet.
Gut health is important to maintaining the overall health of your dog and can be a key method for helping ease Cushing’s symptoms. Supplements can also be a way to lessen Cushing’s symptoms naturally. A probiotic supplement like CushAway combines both, using natural occurring compounds like lignans and melatonin to combat the overproduction of cortisol, the underlying cause of Cushing’s.
Keep Dogs Active
While exercise may change as a dog ages, it shouldn’t stop. Obesity leads to health complications in dogs as well as humans. Cushing’s disease in elderly dogs however, may cause joint or other pain that slows them down. Start slowly and keep a regular exercise schedule whether it be a quick walk or a bit of playtime inside. Keep a moderate pace, but motivate your dog with verbal and physical praise.
Once you establish the routine, you can continue to add a little length and vigor to the exercise. Watch carefully for signs of fatigue or pain your dog exhibits and don’t push them if you notice something is amiss. Gentle exercise can help your aging pet regain a bit of their old vitality.
Engage Their Brains
Senility is a concern for aging pets. To combat this, stimulate your pet with interactions and new discoveries. You can give an old dog new toys. Thebark.com recommends food puzzles that engage your dog by hiding treats through simple to intricate flaps, knobs, or other containers. A quick internet search reveals more choices than a holiday gift catalog.
Show your dog love and affection as often as possible. Pethealthnetwork.com says as they age, your dog “needs your companionship and attention for mental health and emotional well-being.” Your pooch needs your attention and care more than ever in this stage of life. This will keep their minds stimulated and their tails wagging.
Maintain Overall Health
More vet checks are needed as a dog ages. Cushing’s dogs need to be monitored for symptoms and progress through natural supplements or traditional chemo drug treatment. In some cases, using these chemo medications can cause other complications for your pet, so they need to be watched carefully.
Dental hygiene is also a concern in older dogs. Maintain a regular habit of cleaning your canine’s teeth to avoid tartar buildup that could lead to infections.
Make Home Comfortable
Make easy mobility a priority in your dog’s living space. Your senior dog will be better off not having to climb stairs to get to their bed every time they want to rest. Maintain a calm environment as much as possible as aging dogs may have a lower tolerance for stress. This is especially important for a Cushing’s dog as increased cortisol can lead to anxiety more readily.
Cushing’s disease in elderly dogs doesn’t mean they can’t continue to lead a quality life even after diagnosis. Since there is no known cure for the disease, the best a pet parent can do is care for their pooch through managing and lessening symptoms and pouring out affection for their long-time best friend. Many dogs continue to live a happy life for years to come.