John C. Cargill and Susan Thorpe-Vargas
From time of conception, we all start dying on the installment plan. We age. We age irreversibly for the most part, and to each of us, is allotted only so much time on the biological clock for various life functions and various life stages. This aging process is true for our dogs also, only it happens much faster.
This five part series will address the physical and psychological aspects of aging to include an overview of the aging process, common maladies, normal deterioration and loss of function commensurate with old age, reduced immune response, managing chronic conditions, last days, and a need to make provisions for your dogs in case you are no longer able to care for them, or do not survive them.
Life extension is still beyond our technical capabilities, though the search for the "fountain of youth" has been ongoing since very early times. Having your dog live to a "ripe old age" is more a function of avoiding accidents and disease, thus achieving the genetic life span potential of the individual dog. We will cover what you can do to extend the length of time your dog stays active and healthy.
At the outset, regardless of what you may read in the popular press, tabloids or at health food stores, the only procedure found to extend maximum life span in experiments with dogs is caloric restriction in otherwise sound diets There are fortunately nutritional, medical and lifestyle steps that can be taken to maximize the period of general good health and activity. We will cover those in detail in subsequent articles.