Senior Pets

At what age is my pet considered a senior?

Dogs are generally considered senior at age 7, although smaller breeds may not earn that distinction until age 10.  Giant breeds, such as Great Danes and Mastiffs are considered senior at age 5.  Cats achieve senior status at age 11.

Can my senior pet still exercise?

Absolutely!  You will likely have to reduce the duration or exertion levels as your pet ages, but he is probably not ready for the rocking chair.  Be aware of what he may be trying to tell you by slowing down or breathing more heavily on walks.  Make the necessary adjustments and make sure you’re not pushing him too hard.

Can he still eat his regular food?

Senior pets do not require as much protein, so it is best to change their diet to one that is specially formulated for senior or less active pets.

Does my senior pet need any special veterinary care?

Senior pets should see their veterinarian twice per year for routine wellness screenings.  Some simple blood tests and a thorough physical exam can reveal subtle markers for subclinical problems while they are still relatively easy to treat.

Does my senior pet need any special vitamins?

Every pet is different, so check with your veterinarian.  He or she may recommend an iron supplement, liver support, glucosamine and chondroitin, or omega 3 fatty acids.

Pit Bulls

Do pit bulls really have locking jaws?

No.  Scientific studies out of the University of Georgia and Presbyterian College have definitively disproved this urban myth.

Are pit bulls a dangerous breed by nature?

No.  The American Temperament Test Society issues a very challenging test measuring how dogs respond to stressful or frightening situations.  Each year, between 850-900 pit bulls are tested, and score between 86-87%.  This score is higher than that of poodles and golden retrievers.

When you hear a story about a dog attack, why is it always a pit bull?

Media consumers are inexplicably drawn to stories involving pit bull attacks - and media outlets know it.  During a six-week period in 2005, a little girl was killed by an English sheepdog, and a young boy was killed by two pit bulls.  A Google search of the girl’s story produced over 34,000 hits.  A Google search of the boy’s story produced an astounding 1,960,000 hits.  Additionally, pit bulls as a breed are only correctly identified about 18% of the time.  So between misidentification and over-reporting, the breed gets a reputation it does not deserve.

If a dog is used for fighting, can it ever be rehabilitated?

Absolutely!  Dogs do not enjoy fighting and are happy to be shown other options. One of my most docile patients was rescued from a dog fighting operation in Minnesota.  Only one of Michael Vick’s fighting dogs was deemed too dangerous for society out of over 50 seized.  The rest were adopted, and several even work as service dogs.

Does banning pit bulls protect the public?

No.  Many European countries are repealing their breed bans citing no reduction in the number of dog bites and attacks.  Scotland has actually seen a 150% increase in serious dog bites since breed bans took effect.  Breed bans fool the public into thinking that if a breed is not banned, it is “safe”.  The truth is that any dog of any breed can bite or attack.