Most dog owners in
Singapore live hectic lives. There are just too many
distractions and too much work or enjoyment.
After 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 6-12 months including
examination for tumours and growths, ear infections, eye
diseases and skin diseases. Skin diseases are the top 3
cases in Toa Payoh Vets. An educational video is at:
Video: Microscopic exam of
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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Ultra-scans of the abdomen for abnormal growths of
the internal organs.
6. An MRI scan of the brain for brain tumours.
7. 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.
9. A report and discussion about the delay in
senility, obesity, behavioural problems, skin problems and any questions
related to each individual dog.
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 table.
An example of the investigation tests and surgeries done
for one older dog with heart disease and another with
gum tumour is shown below
Case 1: Heart
disease confirmed in an old companion
Case 2: Get tumours excised by
when they are smaller
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
This 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 cleaning
When 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
life-span of a big breed dog is 12 years. 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, gum and
circum-anal tumours (much less occurrence in a
male dog that has been neutered).
Many diseases such as
circum-anal 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.
breast tumours are best removed
when they are small.
Make an appointment with your pet shop groomer if
you have a close working relationship with them
and needs pet transport to the vet of your choice. Or tel 6254-3326,
9668-6469 for an appointment to discuss health
screening for your senior companion. Or e-mail
BE KIND TO OLDER DOGS & CATS --- GET TUMOURS
REMOVED EARLY --- WHEN THEY ARE SMALLER.
More case studies, goto:
make an appointment: e-mail
tel: +65 9668-6469, 6254-3326