What to Know About a 6-Year-Old Dog


The post What to Know About a 6-Year-Old Dog by Audrey Pavia appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.

When my Australian Cattle Dog mix, Candy, first came to live with me, she was 6 years old. I’d adopted her from a local animal shelter where, three weeks prior, her family had surrendered
her because they were moving.

Six years of age is a tough time for a dog to have to make a huge life change. By the age of 6, most dogs have reached middle age. For some larger dogs, 6 is the beginning of the senior years. Dogs this age are set in their ways and have developed a strong bond with their family. Candy was no exception. After we brought her home, she spent several months in a depressed state, sleeping in a corner of the yard, far away from the goings-on of the household.

Keeping your dog active is one of the best ways to keep him healthy.  Photography by: ©alexei_tm | Getty Images

Keeping your dog active is one of the best ways to keep him healthy. Photography by: ©alexei_tm | Getty Images

It’s not surprising that it took Candy about six months to adjust to her new life. At the age of 6, she was well into her adulthood. Her daily routine and the people she lived with since puppyhood had provided her with the safety and security she needed. Having all that torn away from her halfway through her life was traumatic.

But 6-year-old dogs are not old — they are simply mature. With a little bit of patience and love, Candy adjusted to her new life and became a happy girl. Still young enough to play, hike, go to the beach and attend training classes, she was also a great surrogate mom to our new puppy.

Managing middle age

What can you do to make sure your dog stays happy and healthy during this stage of her life? Plenty! Six is a great age, and you can do a lot with your dog.

Fun outings. Take her on walks, hikes, camping trips — any place you can go that allows dogs. The more exercise and activity you can provide your dog at this age, the longer she will stay healthy and alert.

More training. Six-year-old dogs might be middle-aged, but they’re still capable of learning — a lot. If your dog doesn’t have basic obedience training, take her to a class. It will not only make her a better companion, it will also provide her with mental stimulation. If your dog is already a champ when it comes to the basics, think about taking up a fun dog sport, like agility or rally. At 6 years old, your dog has a better attention span than she did as a puppy and will catch on quickly.

Playtime. Does your dog still like to play? By the age of 6, many dogs still love to chase balls, gnaw on bully sticks and chomp on squeaky toys. Many still also enjoy playing with other dogs. Take your dog on a shopping trip to a local pet supply store and let her pick out some new toys. If she enjoys romping with other dogs, make playdates with your friends’ dogs, or enroll her in doggie day care. Here she can spend an entire day playing with carefully screened dogs, all while under supervision. Even just one day a week at doggie day care can bring lots of fun and stimulation into your dog’s life.

Comfy bed. Now that your dog has hit middle age, add some items to help her stay happy and comfortable. An orthopedic bed is a good start. Designed to make it easier on your dog’s joints, orthopedic beds provide more cushion than a standard bed. While your dog may not yet be arthritic, an orthopedic bed can help keep her comfortable as her joints age.

Nutritional supplements. Your middle-aged dog might benefit from some dietary supplements at this point in her life. Omega-3 oils for dogs can help her coat stay healthy, while a joint supplement containing glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM can help her joints stay healthy longer.

Regular exams. If you haven’t been doing it already, start taking your 6-year-old dog for annual health checks. Yearly blood work and a veterinary exam can help you get a jump on any possible health issues that may be developing. As dogs age, they are more prone to kidney disease, joint problems and other maladies.

Being a pet parent to a 6-year-old dog can be a real joy. Well past the puppy years but still young enough to play and learn, middle-aged dogs make excellent companions.

About the author:

An award-winning writer and editor, Audrey Pavia is a former managing editor at Dog Fancy magazine and former senior editor of The AKC Gazette. She is the author of The Labrador Retriever Handbook (Barrons) and has written extensively on horses as well as other pets. She shares her home in Norco, California, with two rescue dogs, Candy and Mookie.

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The post What to Know About a 6-Year-Old Dog by Audrey Pavia appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.



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Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs


The post Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs by Stephanie Osmanski appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.

Dogs may seem infallible — after all, they sometimes chew things that are never supposed to be eaten — but they can still get sick from time to time. Like people, dogs can suffer from urinary tract infections (UTIs), which can cause unpleasant symptoms like pain while urinating, frequent urination and inability to urinate. It can also lead to other urinary diseases.

Urinary tract infections have two main classifications: lower urinary tract disease (LUTD) or upper urinary tract infections. Infections that occur in the lower urinary tract involve the bladder and/or urethra, while upper urinary tract infections target the kidneys and ureters, which can sometimes be more serious. Infections in the lower urinary tract are generally more common because there is less ground the bacteria needs to cover. Once bacteria enters a dog’s urethra, its first stop is in the lower urinary tract, where it can wreak havoc. Infections spread to the upper urinary tract when they go untreated, allowing the bacteria to continue up the ureters and into the kidneys.

“Pets can get lower urinary tract disease (LUTD), which is an infection or inflammation of the bladder and/or the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body),” explains Dr. Russi, DVM, Banfield Pet Hospital.

Urinary tract infections happen when bacteria that naturally makes itself home in or on the body accidentally gets into an area it’s not supposed to be. Bacteria like Streptococcus and Escherichia coli are common causes. Other common causes of UTIs in pets could include endocrine diseases and injuries.

“There can be several causes of LUTD, including bacterial infection, stones, anatomical defects, incontinence or even cancer,” Dr. Russi says.

Symptoms

Symptoms of UTIs in pets are a lot like the symptoms of UTIs in humans.

“If your pet has frequent or difficult urination, painful urination, inappropriate urination, blood in the urine and/or excessive licking of the genital area, he may have a LUTD,” Dr. Russi explains.

As for “inappropriate urination,” that could mean anything from inability to urinate, straining to pee, cloudy or bloody urine, sudden peeing in the house, and more. Dogs with UTIs may also vomit or exhibit signs of back pain. Like with humans, dogs with UTIs may pee more often. For example, a dog that typically sleeps through the night may get up to go to the bathroom a couple of times.

A dog who peed on the floor, looking up.

A dog who peed on the floor, looking up. Photography © damedeeso | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Dogster’s own Executive Editor Melissa Kauffman recently experienced UTI with both her dogs. “We had no idea,” she says. “One of our dog’s was having some health issues, so we attributed his restlessness at night and drinking more water to that. Turns out, not only did he have a UTI, but our other dog one too, and we didn’t notice any symptoms with him.” Both dogs are 10 years old, and UTIs can become more common as they get older. “Once we found out one dog had a UTI, we tested the other one — and he had it too,” she says.

“If you notice any of these symptoms or anything seems off with your pet, it’s important to contact a veterinarian who can help determine the cause of the issue,” Dr. Russi advises.

Diagnosis

When diagnosing UTIs in pets, running tests is key, just like in diagnosing UTIs in humans. With humans, a doctor would likely have you pee in a cup, then run a test. Since our dogs can’t really aim for cups, the testing process is a little different and often, more complex. Capturing a urine sample in dogs can be especially difficult because UTIs might cause a dog to not be able to pee or to urinate in small quantities. That’s where cystocentesis comes in. Cystocentesis is a procedure in which veterinarians insert a needle into the bladder through the abdominal wall in order to capture a urine sample. Once captured, a veterinarian will test the sample.

“There are several tests that can quickly assist in making a diagnosis, including a urinalysis, blood chemistry panels, X-rays  or ultrasound,” Dr. Russi says. “A veterinarian will use the diagnostic tools best suited for the pet’s individual needs paired with a thorough physical exam and review of patient history to determine a diagnosis and treatment plan.”

Treatment

With most bacterial infections, the easiest available treatment often involves medications and simply encouraging your dog to pee. This could mean walking your dog more frequently and encouraging him to drink a sufficient amount of water.

According to Dr. Russi, treatment for UTIs in dogs, “can consist of antimicrobial therapy, urine pH control, medications or dietary modifications.” In order to naturally adjust the pH balance of your dog’s urine, you can add a small amount of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s water bowl, which will help manage the bacteria. Alternatively, you can try the same thing with adding fresh lemon juice in the water bowl. Remember, the more your dog drinks water, the more likely she is to flush out the infection. Some homeopathic formulas sold at pet stores could include natural ingredients such as blueberry, cranberry or echinacea.

A dog drinking water out of a bowl.

A dog drinking water out of a bowl. Photography ©K_Thalhofer | Thinkstock.

Dr. Russi continues, “In serious cases, placement of a urinary catheter to allow for urination, intravenous fluid treatments, or possible surgical correction may be necessary.”

Prognosis

Generally, the prognosis of a urinary tract infection in pets is good. Dr. Russi advises that it’s important to stick to your pet’s treatment plan, but in most cases, UTIs or LUTDs are not something to worry about.

“While each pet is unique, if you follow the proper treatment plans given by your veterinarian, your pet should make a speedy recovery,” Dr. Russi adds. “As part of your pet’s treatment plan, your veterinarian might recommend having your pet re-checked with a follow-up urinalysis to monitor recovery.”

Of course, there are some cases in which urinary tract infections become very serious. This most often occurs when infections travel from the lower tract to higher up in the urinary system.

“In some cases, urinary tract infections can lead to serious side effects such as the development of bladder stones, prostate infections, infertility, kidney infections, and even blood infections,” Dr. Russi says.

For this reason, it is crucial to monitor your pet as much as possible and take notes of all his symptoms. If you’ve already gone to the vet for this issue, you might want to consider booking a follow-up appointment so your pet can get a follow-up urinalysis.

How to prevent UTIs in dogs

In some cases, lifestyle and dietary changes can be made in order to quash a pet’s likelihood of developing an infection.

“Your veterinarian can recommend ways you can help prevent LUTDs in your pet, depending on their unique needs and lifestyle,” Dr. Russi says.

These lifestyle changes can include adding high-sodium broth to your dog’s food, encouraging them to drink more, and adding blueberries, cranberries and echinacea into your dog’s diet. More frequent walks could also improve your dog’s likelihood of getting a UTI.

Bone broth is another great food to feed your dog. Photography by: ©Madeleine_Steinbach | Getty Images

Bone broth is another great food to feed your dog. Photography by: ©Madeleine_Steinbach | Getty Images

Dr. Russi adds that encouraging behaviors that naturally keep the bladder free from infection is one of the most proactive things you can do as the pet parent.

“For dogs, avoid prolonged periods of urine retention whenever possible,” Dr. Russi advises. So, in short, take your dog out to pee frequently. In order for this to work, however, you’ll have to encourage more water intake first. Some things you can do include adding high-sodium broth to your dog’s food. The sodium will make your dog thirstier, causing him to drink more. (Only do this if your veterinarian recommends it as it may exacerbate other health issues your dog may have.) You can also find specially formulated foods for dogs with UTIs at your local pet store or prescription diets through your veterinarian.

“While female dogs typically empty their bladders completely when they urinate, male dogs often only urinate small amounts at a time, keeping a reservoir available for marking territory,” Dr. Russi continues. “It may help with male dogs to take them for a long walk before going to work or bed, allowing them to completely empty their bladders. As with people, repeatedly being forced to wait to urinate can promote UTI development!”

Staying properly hydrated can also help deter the development of UTIs in pets.

“It’s also important to make sure your pet always has access to clean water to stay hydrated,” Dr. Russi adds. “The act of urination can physically remove bacteria that is trying to make its way up the urethra. Appropriate hydration can help reduce the chance of stone formation which can complicate or contribute to a urinary tract infection.”

Understanding if your dog is more prone to UTIs can be crucial to preventing them. Urinary tract infections are more common in dogs ages 7 and up and also, females. Male dogs have a longer urethra, which makes it more difficult for bacteria to get into. Some breeds are also more susceptible than others, as their bodies are more likely to develop kidney stones. These breeds include Bichon Frise, Shih Tzu and Yorkshire Terriers, thanks to their anatomy; since each of these breeds are generally shorter, they’re closer to the ground, meaning their urethra might be more frequently exposed to feces left on the ground.

About the author:

Stephanie Osmanski is a freelance writer and social media consultant who specializes in health and wellness content. Her words have appeared in Seventeen, Whole Dog Journal, Parents Magazine and more. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton and writing a memoir. She lives in New York with her Pomsky, Koda, who is an emotional support animal training to be a certified therapy dog.

Learn more about UTIs and other common health problems in dogs at dogster.com:

The post Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs by Stephanie Osmanski appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.



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