As dog’s age, they face a variety of health problems. Some of these are related to their diet, and some are related to their lifestyle. But many of these problems can be prevented with the right care and attention on the part of the owner. Continue reading to learn about typical health issues in older and mature dogs that may impact your pet in the future.
When Is a Dog Considered Old?
Most vets and canine experts consider a dog to be older or senior when it reaches the age of seven years, however this truly depends on the size and breed of the dog. Larger breeds age faster than smaller ones.
While a bigger dog like a Great Dane or Golden Retriever is considered a senior at the age of six, a little shih tzu may not be deemed a senior until the age of eight or nine. Other variables, like genetics and environmental circumstances, can, of course, influence how an individual dog ages. When your dog begins to exhibit indicators of age-related health difficulties, he or she is termed a senior dog, regardless of their exact age. The RSPCA says symptoms or warning signs to be aware of include sudden (or slow but unintended) weight loss, changes in urination or defecation habits or difficulty moving.
Here are seven common health problems in senior dogs:
1. Hearing and Vision Loss
In senior dogs, tissue deterioration in the eyes and ears can produce varying degrees of hearing and blindness. Cataracts, which PetProfessional.com.au defines as opaque or cloudy eye lenses that can cause partial or total blindness, are also common in senior dogs. Dogs may get around well even without removal of cataracts, thanks to their superb sense of smell and excellent hearing.
Hearing loss and deafness can be caused by a variety of factors ranging from heredity to recurrent ear infections. While deaf dogs cannot hear you speak, they can detect vibrations on the floor as you approach and can be spoken to via hand gestures. When you’re outside with a dog who can’t hear or see properly, you should always take care. You don’t want them to sneak away and get into mischief or danger!
2. Joint Problems
The most prevalent cause of joint discomfort and stiffness in dogs is osteoarthritis. This is a gradual degenerative illness that results in joint lubrication loss and cartilage deterioration. Although there is no cure for this condition, there are a variety of therapies that can help lessen discomfort and delay the advancement of the disease. Nutrition, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, plays an important role in helping dogs with joint problems. Ask your veterinarian about the many diets available to assist joint health and whether therapeutic nutrition might be useful for your dog.
3. Dementia/Cognitive Dysfunction
Dogs, like humans, can lose cognitive function as they age, resulting in symptoms comparable to senility or Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Confusion, whining or barking for no apparent reason, appearing to become disoriented in familiar situations, and toilet accidents can all be symptoms of cognitive impairment. These signs can also be indicative of other illnesses, so it’s best to consult your veterinarian if you detect these in your dog. Dementia, like arthritis, has no cure, although it may frequently be treated with specific drugs and antioxidant-rich diets.
Older dogs are more prone to lumps and bumps, although not all of them are cancerous. However, because ageing increases the risk of cancer in dogs, the AVMA recommends having any unusual tumours examined thoroughly. Regular checks and cancer screenings can aid in the detection of malignancies that are not easily seen or felt.
The weight of your dog can have a big influence on their health, particularly as they age and become less active. Obese older dogs are more vulnerable to ailments such as diabetes. Obesity can contribute to and complicate the treatment of heart disease and joint problems.
In addition to keeping your dog as active as possible it is critical to be feeding them an age-appropriate diet to ensure they’re getting the correct balance of nutrients and the optimum amount of daily calories – Veterinary experts agree that many dogs may benefit from a combination of prebiotics and probiotics to assist in promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
6. Gastrointestinal Issues and Incontinence
Fortunately, there are several ways you can help your dog maintain a healthy gut and improve their digestive health.
Dogs have a shorter gastrointestinal (GI) tract than humans. This means that their food is not broken down as thoroughly and can cause problems such as gas, diarrhea, and stomach upset. While not necessarily significant, GI issues might indicate the presence of major issues like renal illness. So if vomiting or diarrhoea does not resolve quickly, consult your veterinarian.
In addition, when the muscles regulating bladder function weaken in older dogs, they may have urine accidents; however, incontinence may be an indication of a larger disease, such as a urinary tract infection. Accidents might sometimes serve as a warning sign of dementia. If these problems aren’t a one-time occurrence, consult with your veterinarian.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to assist your dog have a healthy stomach and enhance their digestive health. The best strategy to enhance your dog’s digestive health is to provide them prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are plant fibres that cannot be digested by humans but can be digested by intestinal bacteria, leaving them to nourish the healthy bacteria in your dog’s stomach. Probiotics are living bacteria that, when taken, give health advantages to your dog. These work together to maintain healthy gut flora, which keeps your dog’s stomach happy and healthy.
7. Kidney Issues
As dogs age, their kidneys begin to lose function. While chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, it may be treated with correct therapy, extending your dog’s life and enhancing their quality of life. Kidney disease can be preventable with the regular use of a canine prebiotic like Dig-In. Routine blood tests for your senior pet can detect renal illness in its early stages, increasing your dog’s chances of surviving. Proper diet is also critical for keeping kidneys healthy, so visit your veterinarian if you have any questions about what you’re feeding your pet.
Growing older never gets easier, and it is as difficult for your maturing dog as it is for you. One of the most important things you can do for your older dog is to take them for routine wellness checkups every six months to screen for these common health problems. Keeping an eye on the mat at home and reporting any strange behaviours to your vet can also help detect these ailments early, enhancing your dog’s chances of living a long and healthy life.