Caring for the Older Dog - McDowell's Herbal Treatments

I discuss many of the issues faced by older dogs and make a variety of suggestions as to how their health may be enhanced. Their health and prospects are very much tied up with the owner, diet and all the rest.

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Always be conscious of your dog's diet, weight and exercise patterns. Certainly cataracts and kidney health are linked weight and exercise patterns but also to overall health and heart problems .

My simple suggestions to prepare them better for a healthier old age would be to treat the cataracts externally by routine use of my Eye Wash and the Conditioning Mix.

This combination offers the best chance of slowing down the metabolic changes which result in cataracts and to slow them down topically by ensuring the best nourishment entering directly through the external application.

I also have very valuable kidney and heat tonics when these are necessary.

Tara's Story:

When I think of an old dog I think of my friend Tim who worked a sheep and cattle property in the hills outside the town where I live. At any one time Tim had 4 or 5 Kelpies, 4 of which were living outside in kennels made from a 4' slice off the base of an old hollow eucalyptus tree, the back end of which he had nailed a piece of iron or timber of some sort. The kennels were scattered around the base of some Pine trees by the tractor shed and the dogs were chained all the time they were not out with Tim working the property. The temperature ranged in summer from hot dry weather quite often in the thirties to cold frosty (sometimes snowy) winters where the temperature is mostly a few degrees below zero at night and only got out of single figures in the early afternoon for a couple of hours.

The fifth dog was retired and lived around the house. It seemed to be always a bitch, who had been a first class working dog and had produced two or three litters of pups over the 10 years of her working life. She was now very grey around the muzzle, gaunt in the flanks and baggy around the teats. When she was first retired she would still go out around the sheep maybe riding on the back of the motor bike. These trips would become less frequent and later she would let the younger ones do all the work and hang about the house, sleeping in a patch of sun and maybe putting up with the attentions of young children. Eventually after three or four more years she would drop away quite quickly and Tim with a very rare tear in his eye and a lump in his throat would take her out one day, probably without telling anyone, and shoot her.

Tim put Tara, his latest retired bitch down just a few weeks ago as it was getting cold at the beginning of winter and she was pretty arthritic and poor and would have been most uncomfortable had she struggled on. She was a top dog and had worked hard all her life. She had been wormed more or less regularly and had lived mostly on raw carcass meat, bones and dry biscuits. To drink she had water from the dams, creeks and rainwater puddles and a tin near her kennel. Tara had two litters and was desexed after those, as there were no more homes for her pups. She worked both sheep and cattle for 10 years and was retired for three.

As a herbalist the only recommendation I could have made to Tim (which I never did) was that he would be better making up cold porridge from a variety of grains to be fed to his dogs rather than the biscuits. Sure these retired dogs became stiff, they quite often were losing their hearing and their sight toward the end and their coat would be getting less and less glossy but they were old. They had also lived a full and happy hard working life with the family and with their own kind and they probably dreamed happy farm dog thoughts in that patch of sun on the warm concrete or under a tree in the garden in the summer time.

Now have a look at your own old dog:

If its story is very much like Tim's bitches you should treat them very much the same. Let them live out their retirement in the same sort of way until there comes a day when the kindest thing for them (maybe not for you) is to let them go.

If by now you have decided that your dog is a prematurely aged dog with early arthritis or some so called 'genetic' bone disease. If it is too heavy or too gaunt, if it has heart problems, cancer, skin problems, if it senile or has cataracts long before it should have. The first thing you must do for your old dog is to make an immediate resolution to do it all differently with your next pup.

A healthy old age begins with a healthy young age and there is no magic fix for a lifetime of too much or inappropriate food or exercise or too much caring. A dog is amazingly adaptable and loyal and will happily put up with us, and all of our bad habits, even if its own quality of life suffers terribly because of it. I am sure however if this is the case, and we learn from our experience and treat our next pup better, our old dog is happier in doggy heaven knowing that its life had served a special purpose in that it taught us something.

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McDowell's staff Herbalists can not diagnose your disease or illness. What they can do is offer a herbal program to assist with healing, after you have had advice from your doctor or specialist. If you have unexplained pain or symptoms, seek medical advice.

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