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Date:   02 September, 2010  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs & rabbits
How your senior dog
or koi can live to an old age
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
02 September, 2010 
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129

Senior dogs - Be pro-active if you want your seniors to live longer

First written: 26 Dec, 2002
02 September, 2010

Senior dogs are usually those over 5 years old in large and giant breeds and 7 years old in small or toy breeds. One dog year is said to be equivalent to 7 human years. In Singapore, the bigger breeds live up to around 10 - 12 years old while the smaller breeds can live up to 15 - 20 years old if healthy.  If you want your dog to live longer lives, here are the following tips: 

1.  Observations. Observe your dog's behaviour or physical changes and write them down in a note book before you visit your veterinarian. Be alert to changes in your dog's energy level, eating and drinking habits, stamina and interest in favourite toys, activities or people.

Is your dog always thirsty, hungry, losing interest in eating, losing weight, gaining weight or urinating too much and too frequently? Is the heat period regular? Any big lumps in the breast or skin? Increased urination and drinking are signs of kidney trouble. Do not delay consulting your vet. See  case study at: 
Update: A Chihuahua has urinary stones

2.  Feeding. Consult your veterinarian to consider a change to a senior diet after the veterinarian has ruled out any acute or chronic health problems. The kidneys are less efficient at getting rid of the excess amino acids which are converted to ammonia products as a byproduct. This collect in the blood stream and can cause kidney failure. Senior diets have less total protein than the standard adult or "maintenance" foods but they offer more easily metabolised proteins. 

Some dogs may need special or prescription diets if they suffer from diseases of the teeth and gums, kidneys, heart, liver damage, pancreatic insufficiency, joints, constipation and the endocrine system.

Older dogs with kidney trouble need less phosphorus in their diets while those with heart diseases need less sodium which can worsen hypertension associated with obesity and chronic renal disease.  

3.  Vaccinations.  Maintain his annual vaccination.

4.  Decayed teeth. Bad breadth. Usually the teeth are decayed and full of tartar. The dog eats less because of tooth ache. Most Singaporean owners do not have their dog's teeth examined regularly by their vet and brush the teeth. They live with the bad breadth. The bacteria in the mouth multiply and goes to infect the heart valves. Get regular dental check ups and adjust your dog's diet if necessary.

Two dogs' urine test analysis - ingestion poison, prostatitis, urinary tract infection, toapayohvets - singapore5. Tests. If your veterinarian recommends blood and urine tests, do them as they help identify diseases like diabetes in their earliest and most treatable stages.  For example, in anaemia, the red blood cell count is below normal.  Blood tests may also reveal low haemoglobin level. Your dog transports oxygen via haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that binds to oxygen molecules and moves them from the lungs to muscles and other tissues. Blood tests with low haemoglobin levels will need further advices from your veterinarian as regards abnormal blood results. See one Two dogs' urine test analysis - ingestion poison, prostatitis, urinary tract infection, toapayohvets - singapore case study at: Urine tests for 2 dogs - shivering and leaking urine - Part 1

6.  Skin tumours and infections. Grooming and brushing your dog regularly will reveal lumps, sores and parasites. Some lumps are tumours. See one case study at:
Backside swelling in old male dogs: Perineal lumps and  perineal hernia

7.  Exercise. Exercise your dog moderately to help control weight and keep muscles toned.

8.  Reproductive organs. If your dog had not been neutered or spayed, ask your veterinarian to do the surgery to avoid tumours of the mammary gland or diseases of the prostate.    
9.  Regular weight and health checks. Make appointment with your vet for a regular health examination which is more important as your dog ages. 

10.  Minimise stress. Maintain a familiar routine and environment if possible. Heat stroke can occur in your dog, if it is unfit, obese and thick coated dogs taken for long walks under the sun in Singapore to visit the veterinarian. Their rectal temperatures are above 39 degrees Celsius. Some of them die from heat stroke. 

11. Nutritional supplements.  Vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene, anti-oxidants like omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, zinc and selenium which in limited doses, make vitamins # and A more effective. Vitamins E and C are antioxidants which fight cell-damaging free radicals. Many commercial foods add omega 3 fatty acids, but some owners use fish oils to help alleviate the dry skin and dull coat in older dogs.  Glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health are generally in low levels in commercial feeds and you may wish to include them although it is hard to know the right doses to be used.   

The above tips may let your dog live longer and you have fewer veterinary expenses.


Senior kois - Be pro-active if you want your seniors to live longer

Written: 02 September, 2010

On Sep 1, 2010, I visited a hobbyist's beautiful koi and arowana set up to appreciate the beautiful champion kois and to educate myself. They grow to a very large size of over 1 metre. This length is seldom if ever seen by Singaporeans.

Although I don't treat koi diseases, it is good to see what the other industry is doing and get some ideas.

I share the following advices and experiences from my client to koi lovers all over the world.

cha-goi is greyish koi, more tame than other koi species, singapore, toa payoh vets 1. Stress of competition. A champion koi won top awards in China. It attended 3 koi shows. Two weeks after returning to Singapore, it died. No more sending champion kois to China for competitions.

2. Food quality. A champion arowana died as he was given live frogs or bait. The supplier was trusted and reliable for many times but hi's water might have affected the pH of he arowana tank. A separate tank with poor quality show kois would get the live bait food first, just in case. 

3. Treatment for white spot by an expert. His assistant must have given another dose of the medicine into the water. All koi died.

4. Quarantine. All new arrivals will be quarantined in a tank and get used to the noise and sounds.     

5. Oxygen tank to supply oxygen to the koi tank when needed. Close-circuit tv monitors the koi. Every evening, the caregiver or a trusted worker will check the water pH and do all the maintenance.


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