Everyone who has ever owned a dog knows how special the bond with a dog can be. Loyal, playful, and selfless, dogs are mostly valued for the unconditional love they have for their owners.
This makes it all the more difficult to watch your once tireless puppy slow down with age, choosing to walk along your side rather than run. One by one, the signs of old age start to appear, and when your dog eventually gets old, this is when they will need you the most.
Familiarise yourself with the most common conditions in senior dogs so you can give them the best care possible and provide a happy last part of their life.
Vision, hearing, and dental problems
Old age in dogs usually starts with deterioration of sight and hearing. Starting slowly and progressing gradually with time, these symptoms are impossible to delay or prevent. Some dogs will develop cataracts, others will be affected by dry eyes, and most of them will be prone to eye infections.
Along with declining eyesight, older dogs are likely to experience difficulties hearing. Both of these conditions will cause the dog to feel insecure, so be gentle to them and try communicating by talking in a louder voice and using hand signals.
Another frequent condition is periodontal disease, caused by inadequate dental care. Buying specialised foods and regularly brushing your dog’s teeth can help prevent the development of the disease, which can lead to infection, inflammation, and loss of teeth. In an advanced stage, professional cleaning or even surgery might prove to be necessary.
Also known as canine dementia, a cognitive dysfunction is a form of senility similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. The best indicators of this syndrome are inexplicable changes in dog’s behaviour, including confusion, forgetfulness, ignoring being called by their name, and even urinating or defecating around the house.
Although impossible to treat, these symptoms can be somewhat alleviated by providing constant mental stimulation and treating your dog with utmost love and care.
Both weight loss and obesity are common occurrences in senior dogs. The first is mainly caused by illness, while the latter can be attributed to lower activity levels, slower metabolism, and high-calorie intake.
No matter the case, your dog will need multivitamin supplements in addition to a specially tailored and adequately portioned diet. Buying pet supplies online is an easy, fast, and convenient way to provide your dog, be it young or old, with daily multivitamins rich in powerful antioxidants that will boost their immune system and increase their life expectancy.
Even older dogs need regular exercise, especially if they’re overweight. Obesity is not only linked to heart, joint, and kidney disease, but can also significantly shorten a dog’s lifespan. Sometimes, weight gain can be explained by hypothyroidism, a common, yet relatively treatable condition.
Senior and overweight dogs are very likely to suffer from arthritis. Although this degenerative joint disease cannot be reversed, it can be relieved by providing your dog with regular exercise, anti-inflammatory medications, dietary supplements, and pain-relieving products such as orthopaedic beds or heated blankets and pads.
Symptoms of arthritis include limping, stiffness, difficulties in getting up, and reluctance to go for a walk. At first only a discomfort, arthritis can progress to a chronic state, causing severe pain and making the dog irritable and lethargic.
Caused by genetics, obesity, or improper nutrition, hip dysplasia can be treated the same way as arthritis. At a progressed stage, its symptoms can be alleviated by including massage and hydrotherapy into the treatment routine.
Of all the illnesses found in dogs, cancer is the most common and the most difficult to recognise. The most frequent types of cancer include lymphoma, osteosarcoma, melanoma, and hemangiosarcoma.
Since early detection is vital, pay attention to any changes in your dog’s behaviour, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or lack of energy. Other warning signs include sudden lameness, wounds that won’t heal, rapid weight loss, difficulties eating or breathing, or even bleeding from their nose, mouth, or anus. Check your dog for suspicious swellings, lumps, and other abnormal growths, and don’t forget to pay regular visits to the vet.
Focus on early prevention
Just like humans, the vast majority of dogs are likely to fall ill in their old age. While some conditions can be treated with more or less success, others can significantly degrade a dog’s quality of life.
Paying regular visits to the vet to check for early signs of diseases such as kidney and heart disease or cancer is the best way to maintain good overall health and prolong the life expectancy of your most loyal companion.