The Older Dog
What Symptoms To Look For In Your Older Dog And What To Do
The following article regarding the older dog was written as a courtesy by Dr. Susan Wright, Staff Veterinarian for DogFenceDIY.co
Thank you for sharing your expertise with our visitors Dr. Wright.
Whether you watched your dog grow from a puppy or you adopted an older dog, this article will quickly touch on the typical stages of dogs in their senior years and what you may encounter as the dog’s owner. We’ve come a long way over the years in regards to our old furry family members.
Older Dog Aches & Pains
First, it’s safe to say that most elderly dogs have some degenerative joint disease and joint discomfort. This can affect their quality of life – going for a walk is painful, and it’s often difficult for them to jump up on the couch for a cuddle.
Your vet can prescribe effective pain medications to allow him to move more comfortably. Other options for treatment include dietary supplements to support joint health, and acupuncture.
Mind & Behavior
If you think your dog is losing his mind, you may be right. Dogs can develop a condition known as canine cognitive dysfunction, which is very much like Alzheimer’s Disease in people. This can be very difficult to live with, as your dog may wake often at night, and forget where they need to go to the toilet.
He may also develop behavioral issues such as separation anxiety. You can help him by maintaining a familiar routine to his day, and avoid sudden changes. He will often enjoy playing with other dogs and going for a walk – both of these activities stimulate his mind. Your vet may also suggest some medication to help settle these behavioral problems.
Loss Of Senses
Elderly dogs can also lose their senses. They can develop an opacity to the lens of the eye, which makes it appear white. This can affect their vision. They may also become deaf. There may be the option to remove an affected lens and improve your dog’s vision that way, but in many cases, these conditions are just something your dog has to learn to live with. Again, stick to a routine, don’t rearrange anything in their environment, and touch them gently as you approach them so they aren’t startled.
This is the one area that all dog owners, without question, can make a difference in the way their aging dog feels. Have your veterinarian check your dog’s teeth. Dental disease is very painful and can lead to many larger health problems such as heart disease. Have his teeth professionally cleaned by your vet, and he’ll be much more interested in his dinner.
Speaking of dinner, watch how much you’re feeding. If he’s not active, he doesn’t need too many calories. Excess weight will worsen any joint disease and make it harder for him to move around. If he has a specific medical condition, such as kidney disease, your vet may recommend a prescription diet to help control symptoms of his condition.
You’ll notice your dog slowing down as he gets older and some of these symptoms may rear their ugly head. Dogs are now living longer than in previous years and veterinary care is advancing in leaps and bounds.
Many of these age related problems can be managed so your elderly companion needn’t suffer discomfort. Read a lot more on Most Common Illnesses/Treatments Affecting Older Dogs. There’s life in that old pooch yet!