Holistic veterinary surgeon, Ilse Pedler, helps the owner of an elderly dog provide him a better quality of life. As Ilse says….

Old age is a stage of life, not a disease

This is a phrase I use at least once a week.  I sometimes find that owners accept their pets getting less mobile and having various ailments as an inevitable part of the aging process and something that they can do nothing about.

Jack the elderly Labrador

A typical case last month was Jack the old Labrador who puffed and wheezed his way into my consulting room and flopped his considerable weight down on the floor. His owner explained in a very sad voice that he thought the end was near as Jack was struggling to walk any distance and had a number of lumps and bumps and couldn’t hear so well anymore. On further questioning, it turned out that his owner was used to taking Jack a good few miles every day and was concerned that Jack could no longer manage the distance.

Those big brown eyes

He also admitted that Jack liked his food and had such big brown eyes it was difficult to resist giving him a little bit extra whenever the family sat down to eat. I looked at Jack and he wagged his tail hopefully and looked at my pocket where I generally keep a few dog treats. I felt it wasn’t time to let an obviously alert and intelligent dog go just yet and after examining Jack thoroughly I talked to the owner about his concerns.

Not time to go yet!!

I explained older dogs often lose their hearing and many also lose some vision but this doesn’t necessarily affect their quality of life. We also worked out how old Jack was in human years and this allowed the owner to realise that expecting Jack to go on a long walk every day was like expecting his eighty-year-old grandfather to do the same thing. Jack’s heart sounded strong, we took a needle aspiration of the lumps and they all turned out to be benign, so that just left the issue of the weight…I referred Jack to one of our nurses who sat down with the owner and worked out a diet for Jack as I felt many of his problems could be helped by shedding some of the extra pounds he’d been carrying around, and she also gave him some strategies for avoiding the pleading looks at meal times!

A good quality of life

I saw Jack a month later and he’d already lost a kilo in weight and seemed a bit more active. Three months later, Jack had a bit of a waist and less of a wheeze and the owner was very happy that although Jack was getting on, many of the problems he had were common in older animals and were not affecting Jack’s quality of life. By addressing a couple of issues and talking about what could be expected of an old dog, the family had adjusted their expectations and improved Jack’s wellbeing immensely.

Ilse Pedler MA VetMB Vet MFHom MRCVS

Ilse qualified as a veterinary surgeon from Cambridge University in 1989 and started work with Mercer and Hughes in Saffron Walden, Essex, treating both large and small animals. She became a director in 1992 working her way up to senior partner by the time she retired from there in 2020.

Ilse had always had an interest in complementary therapies and studied with the Homeopathic Physicians Teaching Group (HPTG) in Oxford, gaining the Diploma of Homeopathy in 2001. She went on to study Chinese traditional medicine and acupuncture and more recently herbal medicine. Ilse has written many articles on complementary therapies for magazines and is a member of the British Association of Veterinary Herbalists, The Raw Feeding Society, The British Veterinary Association and is currently vice president of the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons (BAHVS).

With over 30 years of experience, Ilse has recently set up Ilse Pedler Holistic Veterinary Care. Here she offers holistic veterinary treatment for animals in Cumbria and the NW, providing services in acupuncture, herbs and homeopathy as well as advice on species-appropriate diets and a wide range of supplements. 

Links to treatments mentioned and other blogs of interest

Visit the Modalities section on the website for more information about the treatments Ilse offers:

  • Homeopathy
  • Herbs
  • Acupuncture
  • Natural feeding/species-appropriate diets

For similar blogs see Elderly animals

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