Angel Ridge Veterinary Service PLLC

Quality compassionate veterinary care for your animals.

Caring for Your Senior Dog: 8+ Years

Just like your body, your dog’s body tends to naturally wear down as he ages. Remember that an 8-year-old dog is 56 years old in human years and will have different needs than he did a year or two before. Here are a few things you should know.

Senior Diets

When your dog is 7 years old, it is recommended to switch your food to a senior diet even if your dog may not act like a senior on the outside. If your dog has special needs, prescription diets are available. Talk to your veterinarian for more information.

Recommended Tests

A Senior Wellness Panel is recommended for any dog over 7 years of age. This panel includes, among other things:

  • Evaluation of many major organ functions of the body, such as the kidney, liver, and thyroid
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Urinalysis


The pain and loss of muscle mass and fitness resulting from osteoarthritis may make it hard for your dog to move around. When exercising with an arthritic dog remember the three R’s:

  • Be Reasonable (consider a short leash walk rather than a 10-mile hike).
  • Be Rate-conscious (start off slowly and increase exercise time gradually).
  • Be Regular (make exercise a routine, like your dog’s meals).

When playing with an arthritic dog, remember to keep exercise on a level, soft surface such as carpet, grass, or dirt, and avoid exercise that requires jumping, like catching a toy thrown high into the air, or jumping into the back of a car, or onto the bed.

If you think your dog might have arthritis, contact Dr. Darcy Smith at Angel Ridge Veterinary Service.

Veterinarian Assisted Management of Arthritis

  • K-laser/Cold laser therapy involves laser light that helps decrease inflammation and increase circulation. It also aids in preventing calcification.
  • NSAIDS (Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) – pain medication that is given once to twice daily orally, depending on the brand.
  • Glucosamine supplements resurfaces the joint with fibrocartilage.
  • Fish oil helps reduce inflammation by creating the proper Omega-3, Omega-6 balance.  Dogs are sensitive to some human brands, and they can cause itching.
  • Acupuncture
  • Physical rehabilitation

Dental Care

After your dog reaches a few years of age, tarter begins to build up at the junction of the gums and teeth. If this tarter is not removed, it builds up until it undermines the tissue and causes receding gums. The area then becomes infected, which leads to bad breath, as well as pain for your pet. Severe gum infections, abscessed teeth, and cheek ulcers can develop as a result.

Chronic infections of the teeth and gums also cause other health problems throughout the body. Bacteria enter the bloodstream from infected teeth and cause infection in organs such as the liver, the kidneys, the heart, and also the  joints.

Good dental care care can lengthens your dog’s life an average of 10 to 20% through the prevention of secondary problems.

You can help reduce dental problems through the following:

  • Feed special food formulated for the prevention of dental problems
  • Feeding a dry pet food daily.
  • Brushing (with toothpaste designed for animals only) daily or weekly.
  • Scheduling regular dental exams and/or routine dental cleaning and polishing.
  • VET enzadent chews – formulated to help remove and prevent plaque build up.  Available in 4 sizes at our office.

Heartworm Disease

According to the American Heartworm Society, canine heartworm disease develops when a dog is bitten by a mosquito carrying microscopic heartworm larvae (juvenile worms) of a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis. As a mosquito feeds, these microscopic larvae are deposited on the dog and quickly penetrate the skin to begin their migration into the dog’s bloodstream. Adult heartworms can grow 10 to 12 inches in length and make their home in the right side of the heart and pulmonary (lung) arteries, often causing lung disease and heart failure.

Happily, this is an easily preventable disease! It is recommended to have your dog tested at least every other year, as well as to keep your dog on a preventative medication.

Give us a call here at Angel Ridge Veterinary Service for more information.