For the Older Dogs Dr Sing
Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First written: 21 September, 2011
17 September, 2015
Most dog owners in Singapore live
hectic lives. There are just too many distractions and too much work or
an intense period of love and care for their new puppies, the senior dogs
are just left alone as there is no time for them after their puppy hood.
It is usually too late for many old dogs when they are sent to the
veterinarian for some chronic disease problems. Veterinary costs become
high as the dog is in poor health and need more intensive care.
Senior dogs are: Small
and Medium-sized breeds: Over 7 years
Large and Giant-sized breeds: Over 5 years.
For those who may want their senior
dogs to live longer, here are the following health screening
recommendations by Toa Payoh Vets: 1.
Veterinary examination every 12 months
including examination for tumours and growths, ear infections, eye
diseases and skin diseases. Prostate enlargement, perineal
hernias, breast tumours are common in the older dog. Early detection
saves lives. Skin diseases are the top 3 cases in Toa Payoh
Vets. An educational video is at:
exam of ringworm
2. Blood tests
to check for blood disorders, diabetes, liver and kidney diseases. Special
veterinary diets can be given to prevent further health deterioration when
such health screening show disorders of the liver and kidneys, prolonging
the dog's life.
Some senior dog/cats may be suffering from chronic kidney diseases which
can be detected early by blood tests. Early detection and
veterinary treatment prevents further kidney damage and expensive
dialysis. The cost is $150 for a Complete Blood Count. Contact
firstname.lastname@example.org or tel
6254 3326 to get a blood test for your dog.
Urine tests to check on bladder
and kidney infections and presence of urinary stones.
Urine tests for bladder stones 3-months or periodically after operation as
advised by your vet, but many Singaporean owners don't bother and bladder
stones recur 3 times.
Some owners euthanase their dogs when stones recur but others incur high
veterinary costs to get them operated. Monitoring of the urine and X-rays
as advised by your vet after bladder stone removal would have prevented
much medical costs. Case study:
Five surgeries for bladder stone problem in a Shih Tzu
X-rays for arthritic hip joints
(can't stand up easily), spinal column, heart and lungs.
X-rays for bladder stones 3-months or periodically after operation as
advised by your vet.
of the abdomen for abnormal growths
of the internal organs.
Dental check up and scaling
every year. Prevention of oral tumours and oro-nasal fistulas (carnaissal
tooth abscesses) in the old dog can be done if the owner checks his or her
dog's teeth at the vet yearly.
7. Heart check
for murmurs and heart diseases.
X-rays, ECG and ultrasound can be done.
8. Stool test
for blood inside the stomach and intestines and
9. Blood tests
for allergens affecting your
chronic itchy skin-diseased dog.
10. A report
and discussion about the
delay in senility, obesity, behavioural problems, skin problems and any
questions related to each individual dog.
Old dogs are very high anaesthetic
risks as they are seldom in the best of health unlike younger ones.
Everyone is happy when the old dog does not die on the operating table
after surgery. But every vet will have cases of old dogs dying on the
operating table as it is impossible to get good clinical outcomes when the
vets undertake high-risk anaesthetics.
is one main reason why some vets discourage or reject old dog surgeries.
"The old dog will pass away before the circum-anal tumours grow much
bigger," one vet said to the owner. But the dog lived longer, splattering
the apartment with blood from the bleeding tumour and requiring frequent
a dog dies on the operating table, it is just too emotional for everyone
including the operating veterinary surgeon. Such deaths may be
bad-mouthed by the owner or the family members to friends and recorded on
the internet forum. The bad news adversely affect a vet's reputation that
takes so much time and effort to build.
So it is understandable if a vet
does not want to operate on high-risk cases. I do avoid such cases if
possible as deaths on the operating table means a beloved family member
that has been growing up with the family children who have become adults
is lost forever.
average life-span of a big breed dog is 12 years. The oldest
small breeds in Singapore can
live up to 20 years. However, many die before they are 10 years
of age due to bad health and other preventable causes such as bacterial
infection of the heart valves due to severe gum diseases (preventable by
regular 2-yearly dental scaling and checks), pyometra (preventable by
early detection or spaying), kidney diseases, diabetes and tumours
like breast, testicular (undescended testicle), gum and circum-anal
tumours (much less occurrence in a male dog that has been neutered).
Tips: Excision of small skin, mammary, circum-anal
and other tumours.
Tumours detected early can be excised saving the dog's life and reducing
veterinary costs. Delaying treatment results in tumours growing and
multiplying as in the circum-anal tumour. Many Singapore dog owners delay
removal of their senior dog's tumours till they grown big, become smelly
and bleeding, messing up the apartment. In such cases, the anaesthetic
risks are very high and the dog may die on the operating
Many diseases such as circum-anal
and undescended testicular tumours rarely occur in male dogs that have
been neutered. If you don't wish to neuter your dog, please check his
backside monthly as small circum-anal tumours are easily removed and cost
you less too.