Common Health Problems Older Dogs Can Develop
Just like humans, as dogs get older, they are more likely to develop certain health conditions. Older dogs require specific care as they get into their more senior years. It’s useful to know what sort of health conditions your dog could get as they enter into old age. All you need to do is make them feel as comfortable as possible and ensure they get the treatment they need should these conditions present themselves. Here are eight common health problems older dogs can develop.
Obesity and weight loss
Older dogs often gain or lose weight quite quickly, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on their weight. Weigh them regularly so that you can pick up on any alarming weight fluctuations. Try not to overfeed your elderly dog as it is harder for senior dogs to lose weight and the extra weight can take its toll on their joints.
This is probably the most common health issue that older dogs get. Your dog’s joints go through a lot during their life. Arthritis is a sign of deteriorating joints and it tends to set in during old age. Signs that your dog is developing arthritis include a reluctance to move about (because it becomes painful) and not being able to do some of the things they used to do, such as jump into a car. Other signs include limping, tiredness and irritability. Arthritis is worse in overweight dogs so as mentioned above it’s extremely important that you keep your dog at the correct weight.
Most dogs are older than seven when they get diagnosed with diabetes, it’s another health problem that often comes later in life. Symptoms include weight loss despite a normal diet, increased urination and excessive thirst. It occurs when the pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin, which your dog needs to use proteins, fats and sugars. If you suspect your dog has diabetes take them to the vet to get treatment right away.
Dogs teeth also deteriorate as they get older. It is important that you look after your dog’s teeth from a young age to prevent them from getting gum disease, plaque and infections. There are a range of you can get for your dog to help to keep their teeth in good condition such as toothpaste andSigns of gum disease in dogs include bad breath, excessive plaque and sore gums. If your dog’s teeth look like they need treatment make sure you take them to the vet to get them checked.
Lumps and bumps
It's pretty normal for older dogs to develop lumps and bumps all over their body. In many cases these lumps are harmless and won’t cause your dog discomfort. However, it’s important to always get them checked out, your vet may need to perform tests to check they are not cancerous. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Check your dog for new lumps and bumps as they get older so that you can spot any issues early.
Reduced brain function
Again, like humans some dogs can experience reduced brain function as they get into the last stages of their life. Be aware that your dog’s behaviour could change as they get older. If they start acting out of character you might want to get them checked over by the vet. They may not be as alert as they used to be and can become confused in certain situations. They may also forget to ask to go to the toilet, not respond to verbal cues and not recognise certain people or environments. Your dog’s brain can be affected by old age just like their body.
Poor hearing and eyesight
Your dog may experience reduced hearing or a loss of eyesight as they get older. Cataracts are also common in elderly dogs and should be treated as soon as possible. You can test your dog’s eyesight at home or get a vet to test them.
Dogs can sometimes struggle to control their bowels as they get older. They may have a few more accidents than usual and urinate where they aren’t supposed to. Some owners mistake this for behavioural issue but some older dogs just can’t help it. They may not be able to wait for long periods to go to the toilet and may lose control of their bladder/bowels. Talk to your vet about how you can manage these issues and make your dog more comfortable.
How to Deal with Elderly Dogs During Their Final Days
There’s nothing worse than the possibility of losing your best friend. Although we wouldn’t give up the years of fun and love for anything, when the time comes to say goodbye it can make you wonder if the pain of owning a pet is worth it. Of course it is, because you’ve given them such a wonderful life. Although some people lose their pet suddenly, for many it’s a long and drawn-out process. Still, the inevitable decline caused by aging doesn’t have to be an entirely sad experience. Here’s how to make the most of the time you and your beloved dog have left, and how to ensure their bittersweet last days are happy ones.
Make sure they’re given the treatment they need
Unless you’re Dr Doolittle, the odds are you can’t talk to animals (or at least, they can’t talk back). So, you need to figure out other signals that your dog is suffering. There are up to different signs of pain in pets. Some are physical, such as panting or moaning, whereas others include losing interest in their favourite activities or a lack of appetite. Find a vet you trust, who can help you come up with a pain management plan for your pet, or any other treatments they may need in their final days. They can also tell you when your dog’s quality of life has declined to the point where it is better to let them go, however hard that may be to hear.
Keep Them Comfy
Older dogs are often grumpy, and understandably so. After all, they’re likely to be dealing with muscle and joint pain and can become frustrated by the difficulties this brings. Provide what comfort you can, such as soft , as elderly dogs are prone to pressure sores. Also keeps blankets and a heater nearby for if your pet looks cold, as older dogs can also have issues regulating their body temperature. This means you shouldn’t leave them outside for too long either, whatever the weather – no one wants a hot dog!
Moderate Their Diet and Exercise
Although all dogs love a good walk, vets recommend that exercise is moderated for older dogs, as their heart and lungs are not as strong as a younger pup’s. You may also need to cut down their food. Your dog may have the same appetite, but it can’t burn calories as easily due to a slower metabolism and being overweight can exacerbate any age-related health problems they already have.
If your dog seems like they’re ignoring you, they’re not – they just can’t hear as well as they used too. Same goes for missing that ball you threw, or if they jump when you approach them, their eye sight just isn’t what it once was. They may also have more difficulty handling stress, and often react in one of two ways, either becoming incredibly clingy or suddenly aloof. Although these behaviour changes may be hard to deal with, be patient. They can’t help it, and they still love you as much as they ever did.
Remind Them They’re a Good Girl/Boy
Don’t forgot to tell them how much you love them and what a good dog they are while you still can. We’re sure they already know, but we bet they’d still like to hear it.