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The Old dog
#1
The Old Dog 
Many vets look at older pets in two ways , 1) they are not going to be here very long so appease the owner and 2) It is a valuable opportunity to understand and study geriatric animals so lets test test test- either way the only one that is quids in is the vet! Having geriatric dogs and caring for other geriatric dogs I have a very good understanding of their ailments , the treatment protocols and their cognitive function by age. I do NOT advise teeth cleaning for any dog or cat (unless in pain ) over the age of 10 , In general it leads to possible pneumonia and teeth are never cleaned properly at a vet (unless it is a orthodontic vet) the equipment is far too abrasive and teeth are usually green again within a few weeks. I DO advise supplementation for arthritic conditions and a diet suitable for the older dog who isn’t as mobile as the youngsters. I DO advise a FBC to just check if the liver, kidneys, heart and all internal organs are working well. One blood panel is not enough you need a baseline so always pay for two with a 4 week gap between. Unless your vet is psychic they cannot tell how good an individual dog is using just 1 blood screen- we all (mammals) have an individual normal baseline. Cognitive dysfunction is one problem unique to geriatrics although, not all geriatric animals experience cognitive dysfunction. Cognitive dysfunction has several names, cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), and among the pet owning public, “Doggie Alzheimer’s.” Cognitive dysfunction syndrome is defined as “age related or senior onset behaviour changes that are not attributable to a general medical condition, such as neoplasia or organ failure.” Just like people, some dogs age without experiencing cognitive dysfunction (normal aging) while others experience pathological aging. The symptoms associated with CDS are non-specific and include, disorientation, memory loss, changes in activity levels, changes in social relationships, sleep abnormalities and loss of housetraining. Sadly some owners think this is the time for the shelter and they abandon their dogs at a time of great confusion for the older doggy- it is cruel and heartless to even contemplate this. 
So what is the geriatric dog in size is the best way to determine this : 
Small dogs (< 20 lb) 9 to 13 years 
Medium dogs (21-50 lb) 9 to 11.5 years 
Large dogs (51-90 lb) 7-5 to 10.5 years 
Giant dogs (> 90 lb) 6 to 9 years 
Immunosenescence in Man 
The characteristic features of immunosenescence have been best characterized in man. The immunological changes that occur in older individuals include: 
• A reduced ability to mount a delayed type hypersensitivity (DTH) response to antigen administered intradermally 
• Reduced in vitro proliferative responses of blood lymphocytes and reduced production of IL-2 by cells in these cultures 
• Lower serum IgA concentration 
• Reduced response to vaccination 
• Reduced total number of T cells in the blood 
• No consistent change in the proportion of CD8+ T cells in the blood 
• Lower naïve and increased memory T cells in the blood 
• Increased NK cells in the blood 
• Higher pro-inflammatory cytokine production 
• Increased expression of Th2 cytokines, suggesting an imbalance in immune function with immune deviation away from a Th1 phenotype 
• Increased concentrations of serum antibody but possible production of antibody of lower affinity for antigen 
• Increased autoantibody production 
• Reduced resistance to infection. 
Immunosenescence in the Dog The immunological changes that occur in ageing dogs follow the same general trends described above for man. There is reduction in the ability of blood lymphocytes to proliferate in response to mitogens and an altered balance in the relative proportions of blood lymphocytes, characterized by fewer CD4+ T cells, increased CD8+ T cells and fewer B cells. The ability to produce immunoglobulin is maintained, with a general trend to increased concentration of serum IgG. Similar to man, there is a reduced ability to mount DTH responses to recall antigens. One of the most comprehensive studies of canine immunosenescence was that performed by HogenEsch et al. in 2004. This project compared immune parameters in 32 young dogs of mean age 3 years and 33 older dogs of mean age 12 years. The older dogs had reduced proliferative responses of blood lymphocytes when stimulated with mitogens. There were alterations in the relative proportions of blood lymphocytes amongst the older dogs, characterized by reduction in the proportion of CD4+ T cells and elevation in CD8+ T cells, with a CD4 to CD8 ratio of 3.0 in young dogs compared with 1.8 in older dogs. The older dogs had fewer CD4 T cells that coexpressed the marker CD45 that is suggested to define naïve T cells, but a greater proportion of CD4+ CD29+ memory T cells. The older animals also had higher concentrations of IgA in the serum and saliva. Two studies performed by Greeley et al. (1996 and 2001) provided information on other aspects of canine immunosenescence. The in vitro function of natural killer (NK) cells did not alter with age although male dogs had greater NK cell function than females. There was no impairment of the ability of blood neutrophils to phagocytose targets in vitro with age. One of these two studies (1996) demonstrated a gender difference in blood lymphocyte mitogen responsiveness with cells from older male dogs less responsive than those from older females. Finally, there was no impairment in the ability of older dogs to mount a serum antibody response to challenge with a novel antigen (KLH). In contrast to human studies, a recent investigation in the dog has shown a progressive dominance of IFN- producing Th1 CD4+ T cells in the blood with increasing age (Horiuchi et al., 2007).

Nutritional Support of the Ageing Immune System 
Given these immunosenescence changes much research has been conducted into whether it is possible to ‘boost immunity’ in geriatric populations through dietary supplementation. In humans it is recognized that the level of intake of protein and energy can influence a range of immunological parameters including cell-mediated immune function, phagocytic cell function, complement function, secretory IgA production and cytokine production. There is great interest in the concept that caloric restriction may increase life span and help maintain immunological function and recognition that obesity is associated with reduced immune function. 
Vaccination 
One important area of geriatric medicine relates to vaccination protocols for older animals. There is little knowledge base as to how older animals respond to vaccination and whether they may require a tailored vaccination protocol. It is often anecdotally suggested that geriatric animals may require more frequent revaccination but in fact the evidence suggests that older animals are equally capable of mounting persisting antibody responses. The 2004 study of HogenEsch et al. compared the serological response of young and old dogs to vaccination with rabies and multivalent canine vaccines and demonstrated no significant difference in the ability of older dogs to develop protective antibody titres to rabies, distemper and parvovirus. In fact, the older dogs had higher rabies antibody titres prior to vaccination than the younger animals. 
Aging Dog and Illness 
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis recognized in man and all veterinary species. It is typically a slowly progressive condition, and it is characterized by two main pathologic processes: degeneration of articular cartilage, with a loss of both proteoglycan and collagen; and proliferation of new bone. In addition, there is a variable, low-grade inflammatory response within the synovial membrane. Current estimates of the prevalence of arthritis in senior and geriatric dogs range from 20 to 25%. The objectives of treatment for OA are multifaceted; reduce pain and discomfort, decrease clinical signs, slow the progression of the disease, promote the repair of damaged tissue, and improve the quality of life. Recent discoveries in fatty acid nutrition have provided clear evidence that canine OA may be very responsive to dietary additions of specific fatty acids. All mammals synthesize fatty acids de novo up to palmitic acid, which may be elongated to stearic acid and converted into oleic acid. Plants, unlike mammals, can insert additional double bonds into oleic acid and produce the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) linoleic acid (LA; 18:2n-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA; 18:3n-3). Both LA and ALA are considered essential fatty acids because animals cannot synthesize them from other series of fatty a desaturation and elongation in the animal. Many marine plants, especially algae in phytoplankton, carry out chain elongation and desaturation of ALA to yield n-3 PUFAs with twenty and twenty-two carbon atoms and five or six double bonds. It is the formation of these long chain n-3 PUFAs by marine algae and their transfer through the food chain to fish, that accounts for the abundance of eicosapentaenoic (EPA; 20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic (DHA; 22:6n-3) acids in certain marine fish oils. I recommend that ALL small animals over 4 years of age take the following (and I do NOT recommend pet neutricals , I advise human grade supplements at all times). Glucosamine , Chondratin , Vitamin C, MSM Omega oil 3.Omega 3 Fatty Acids (EPA and DHA) are So Important for bone Health. The omega-3 essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA) defend our bones against osteoporosis . ... Anything that causes inflammation activates osteoclasts, the specialized cells that break down bone. 
Brain Function 
The precise mechanisms of aging of the brain are not known, but it is believed that the brain ages due to accumulation of reactive oxygen species within neuronal tissue. Oxidative stress can cause an array of cellular lesions that ultimately affect cognition. A number of recent studies have shown that dietary management of canine cognitive dysfunction may present a promising alternative (or adjunct) to drug therapy. A double blinded controlled study of 125 geriatric dogs (Dodd et al. Veterinary Medicine (2003) May: 396-408) examined owner assessed behavioural characteristics over a 60-day period in dogs being fed either a control diet or a diet enriched in vitamin E. Improvements occurred in 14 of 16 behavioural indices in dogs fed the vitamin E-enriched diet, but also improved in 4 of 16 behavioural indices in dogs fed a control diet. The most impressive gains 
made by the dogs fed the experimental diet were in agility, recognition of family members, and recognition of other animals. Another study examined results of oddity discrimination tests in young dogs and old dogs, as well as the effect of a diet enriched with a range of anti-oxidants and mitochondrial enzyme co-factors (Milgram NW et al. Neurobiol Aging (2002) 23:737-745). In this study, dietary modification led to improved performance on the cognitive function tests in older dogs, suggesting that the diet may be able to reverse cognitive dysfunction. Another study compared landmark discrimination tests in older dogs fed a control diet vs. a diet enriched in vitamin E, vitamin C, l-carnitine, and lipoic acid. This study showed a significant beneficial effect of dietary anti-oxidants on learning ability in older dogs. Some of the most interesting (and useful) experimental results came from a study of the effects of both dietary treatment with anti-oxidants and “behavioural enrichment” in elderly dogs (Milgram NW,et al., Experimental Gerontology (2004) 39”753-765). This study showed that the beneficial effects of anti-oxidants are best seen when combined with lifestyle changes designed to stimulate thought. Daily 30-minute outside walks with kennel mates, training on landmark discrimination problems, and weekly changing of sets of toys resulted in the most improvement in learning ability. I always place older dogs showing some signs of cognitive dysfunction the following and bloods from one recent animal show improvement . Vitamin E, L-Carnatine. Arginine and carnitine are amino acids that are found together in nearly every protein source you eat. Beef, chicken, and even tofu have both amino acids. Your body breaks down amino acids and uses them on an as-needed basis. Amino acids that do not get used immediately either get excreted or converted to sugar for use as energy. L-lysine is very important in the creation of carnitine , which converts fatty acids into energy and also lowers cholesterol levels. Llysine also seems to play a role in absorbing calcium and helps the body form collagen, which aids in the growth and maintenance of bones and connective tissue (including skin). In 2007, scientists at Florida State University studied the effects of “lysine conjugates” on damaged strands of DNA, like the ones found in cancer. Basically, this substance can locate a damaged strand by identifying “cleavage” in it (a damaged spot) and cause the rest of the strand to cleave (tear apart) as well. The cell is usually unable to repair this damage, leading to apoptosis, the suicidal death of cells. The scientists conducting the study found results ranging from 25 percent all the way to 90 percent of destroyed cancer cells, which is astounding! A lysine oxidase was tested against instances of colorectal cancer in mice in 2014. In this study, the injection of lysine oxidase was associated with zero deaths and shrunk solid tumours in significant amounts, signifying this may be a promising form of cancer treatment for colorectal cancer in the future. 
Cancers related to the bone marrow, such as leukaemia, may also meet their match with L-lysine, according to preliminary research. In one study, L-lysine injection helped prevent genotoxicity (DNA and RNA damage) in cells exposed to a cancer-causing substance. Along with eating foods high in B vitamins, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids, you can also try increasing your L-lysine intake to minimize anxiety. Because L-lysine may help your body absorb calcium, which is another beneficial nutrient for anxiety sufferers, this may be one of the primary ways in which it helps treat anxiety . 
In addition to helping you absorb calcium more efficiently, L-lysine behaves like a serotonin receptor antagonist. That’s a wordy phrase that means it partially binds to serotonin receptors in order to partially prevent anxiety responses. This research, in particular, found that L-lysine helps reduce stress-induced anxiety responses, including Diarrhoea. It’s possible that L-lysine benefits those with schizophrenia as well, which manifests in extremely serious symptoms often related to anxiety. Preliminary findings suggest that L-lysine supplementation along with conventional therapy can help decrease negative and general symptoms of schizophrenia, although dosing and long-term effects have not yet been determined…… 
L-Carnitine Benefits 
Increases Endurance 
Enhances Weight Loss 
Prevents Muscle Damage 
Amps Up Fat Burning 
Boosts Brain Function 
Regulates Blood Sugar 
One study conducted by the University of Catania in Italy and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effects of daily L-carnitine supplementation on mental and physical fatigue in elderly participants over 100 years old. Not only was it found to reduce total fat mass and increase muscle mass, but it also helped decrease fatigue and improve cognitive function. Other studies have even found that acetyl-L-carnitine, another form of L-carnitine, could help reverse cognitive decline and improve memory in patients with Alzheimer’s disease 
Beets, blueberries and broccoli are also brain foods that can help enhance your focus and memory. I suggest these foods daily in the older doggy. Although a low-fat diet is generally healthier than one that is higher in fat, our bodies require a certain amount of fat for proper growth and functioning. Those fats that are necessary for good health and cannot be manufactured by the body are called essential fatty acids (EFAs). They are termed essential because, like vitamins and minerals, they must be provided by the diet. Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency leads to impaired brain and retinal development in experimental animals and possibly in premature births.

I hope this has given an insight into the older doggy and its needs for supplements (no matter what the vet says) Recently a vet laughed at a diet I was about to give an elderly doggy – that diet in fact has shown a continual improvement in her health and she is being taken off medication given her by that same ignorant vet. Below you will find the diet…..
Low fat cottage cheese ,Turkey mince, cauli rice, mashed potatoes , bone broth, chicken (boiled), white fish, beetroot and apple juice in ice cube trays 1 x25ml per day, benefiber in water, supplements , SAM e, vitamins C E , glucosamine and chondratin, Milk thistle, Lactulose, MSM, lutein and eyebright, Omega 3,L-carnatine, L arginine , Lysine, Omega 6 9 . This is a diet specific to a dog I am treating which has been approved by Liverpool University Teaching Hospital , That was laughed at by a local vet !!! 
ALWAYS CONSULT A VET FOR DIAGNOSIS. 
If you require help or advice re older doggy health please PM me
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