By Dr. Leslie Ann Ross D.V.M. B.Sc.
Nishan Panwar is a young writer from India known for his profound philosophical sayings. According to his biography, he loves dogs, and babies respects old people and women and is a strong believer in God.
Recently, one of his quotes “age is just the number of years the world has enjoyed you!” goaded me to present a canine patient of mine called Bailey. He is an appealing Havanese dog who has certainly achieved senior status as a seventeen-year-old! Of course, as he ages, Bailey is facing a moderate decline of his muscle mass and body organ function as well as some joint stiffness and yet, he still moves his little body about quite swiftly, appearing to be quite enjoying his sunset years to the fullest!
Presently, some quite moderate nutritional and medication adjustments have proven to be beneficial to him, aimed to provide support to favour his kidneys and his stiffening joints. These include blood pressure medication, a joint cartilage restoring medication, and vitamin B12 to perk up his appetite.
His quarterly spaced blood work so far looks great for his age and his heart function is very acceptable.
His daily routine is not a pampered one, and he obviously is enjoying it to the fullest. There is no evidence of significant cognitive decline, which is quite commonly a finding in “grey muzzles”.
A few months ago a Cultus Lake misadventure at a Main Beach dock speaks to his resiliency. One fine summer day Bailey was trotting along the deck in the company of his owner, with them both enjoying the weather and fresh air when, in a moment of distraction he headed off the deck at a 45-degree angle, fell down about five feet and then was submerged in the cold lake water!! Still, he managed to reorient himself, swim under the deck and scramble at the ladder soon to be rescued by his human friend!
Inevitably, unable to escape the clutches of time, as Bailey experiences more physical impairments he will require some additional body support needs at homes such as stair gates and strategically placed track mats to avoid missteps and tumbles. When he starts to develop problems with his hearing and with his vision, he will be requiring some additional guidance and supervision by his owner whenever outdoors. But, by all outward appearances, at this point in time, he is still ready and set to go outside and have some fun at the lake with his human companion at his side.
Although he would not be capable of understanding this, he has no doubt contributed to his human friend’s health status. Studies have indicated that dog owners that walk with their pets have significantly lower serum triglycerides than do non-owners and further, human interactions with them can help reduce their human friend’s blood pressures.
Although Bailey can no longer navigate stairs as well as he once could, nor run as fast nor jump as high, a healthy lifestyle including lots of love and exercise have no doubt played a large role in his senior health status.
By analogy, as people age, although they may not be as capable of running up apartment stairs two at a time, or reading fine print without glasses, they can still maintain a good health status by watching what they eat, getting lots of exercise, preferably outdoors and sharing time with their friends and loved ones.