Our dogs are like our children. If we raise them from puppies, often times we are the only parents they know. However, it's inevitable that our dogs will grow old and eventually decline in health. While this can be a painful process for us humans emotionally, it can be equally painful and frightening for our dogs.
Imagine not being able to communicate with your caregiver. You can't let them know what hurts or what you need. It has to be frustrating, but with proper education, we can know what to look for and expect when our furry friends start getting older. Possibly we can catch it before it causes them too much discomfort and get them to the vet. Let's take a look at some of the most common health issues found in senior dogs.
Much like humans, obesity can lead to many diseases in dogs too. Obesity is linked to diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and lack of energy in dogs. As they get older and become less active, it becomes even more important to monitor their food intake and make sure they aren't being overfed. Obesity can be combated with an exercise program that's appropriate for the age of your dog. You don't want to drag them along on a 5 mile run, but leaving them on the couch all day won't benefit them either.
A lack of dental hygiene, kibble, and baked treats in your dog's diet can lead to dental disease. Like humans, dogs require dental hygiene to control plaque that can later turn into tartar. Tartar buildup causes periodontal and gum disease. These diseases can lead to infections and the need for teeth extractions.
Overtime, your dog's joints experience wear and tear. They can become inflamed, making it hard for your pooch to run or jump. Signs that your dog may be suffering from arthritis include standing after resting or limping after being physically active. You can ease the pain with a canine heating pad or by simply keeping them in warmer temperatures.
Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome
Similar to human dementia or Alzheimer's disease, Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome is another threat your aging dog faces. Symptoms include not recognizing you or other people or animals that are familiar to them, insomnia, wandering aimlessly, and confusion. If your dog experiences any of these symptoms, get him to a vet.
Like in humans, the warning signs for cancer will depend on the type. However, you can keep an eye out for lumps, unexplained weight loss, vomiting, sores, fatigue, and collapsing. Treatment options are also similar to human cancers; they include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
As I mentioned before, obesity can lead to heart disease. However, it's also common in senior dogs that aren't obese. Signs to watch out for are difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, coughing, lethargy, and abdominal distention. Your vet will have to diagnose this disease and treatment options include medications and a special diet.
Next: 10 Tips For Feeding Your Senior Dog
This condition may develop long before you notice it. By the time any symptoms arise, the disease may be fairly progressed. Symptoms include vomiting, weight loss, loss of appetite, frequent urination, and excessive thirst. Your vet can diagnose this problem and will treat it with subcutaneous fluids, medication, and a special diet. While age is something none of us can avoid, we can ensure that our dogs live longer, happier lives. Keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary. Even if it seems harmless, any change in behavior at that stage in their life can be a sign of something more serious.