A slow pace, and graying coat are two common outward signs of aging that you will probably first notice on your dog. However, there are various physical changes that indicate possible age-related health complications that are prevalent in older dogs. Some of these condition include change in weight (obesity or weight loss), difficulties chewing or swallowing, change in appetite (eats less or overeats), change in water intake, frequent urination, reduced mobility, dental problems, anxiety just to mention a few. Should you notice any of these changes, it’s important that you take your dog to a veterinarian.
Here are some of the common health issues in older dogs
Arthritis is prevalent in aging dogs. Common symptoms of arthritis to look out for include trouble jumping, climbing stairs, getting in and out of cars, difficulties rising, and falling on slippery floors. Anti-inflammatory medications and other medications may be subscribed to relieve pain and treat the condition. However, being overweight may increase the risk of arthritis in your old dog. Regular exercise, acupuncture, and massage may also help relieve the pain.
Untreated dental disease and gingivitis (gum inflammation) in old dogs may cause tooth loss, bad breath, make it difficult to eat, and also cause serious health complications. Regular brushing and professional cleaning is highly recommended. A dental checkup is also crucial in maintaining proper dental hygiene.
Eye and Ear Disorders
As your dog ages, he may lose his ability to see or hear clearly. Common eye disorders include cataracts, glaucoma, nuclear sclerosis, and dry eye. If these conditions are not treated in time, your dog may lose his vision or hearing. Both problems are treatable, but only if diagnosed early enough.
Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome
Just like humans, aging dogs are susceptible to cognitive dysfunction syndrome, a condition that may cause your dog to forget familiar places in the house, forget his name, begin urinating and defecating in the house, become less active, become anxious or irritable, or fails to recognize you or other family members. Should you notice any of these signs, be sure to notify the veterinarian.
Urinary incontinence in aging dogs is fairly common. You might notice urine trickling in your dog. Don’t punish him for that; he might not even realize it. Incontinence can be caused by a weak pelvic floor or poor bladder tone. Low hormone levels also have something to do with it. If your dog is suffering from dementia, he might forget that he needs to go out and pee. Medication can help treat the condition.
Aging dogs also risk developing bladder stones. These stones can cause pain and other health problems especially if they get stuck in the urethra. In most cases, an X-ray is carried out to check for the existence of these stones. If found, the correct treatment is then administered.
Kidney disease is also very common in older dogs and can be life threatening if not detected and treated early. It can be treated with medication combined with a special diet. Regular health checkups can help discover such dangerous conditions before they become life threatening.
Yes. Dogs are also at a risk of developing diabetes. It can be treated with medication. A special diet and exercise may also help relieve the condition.
Most common cancers in dogs include lymphoma, soft tissue cancers, osteosarcoma, mammary cancer, and oral melanoma. Common signs of cancer you should watch out for include lumps, weight loss, loss of appetite, unpleasant body odor, and bleeding or discharge from mouth, nose, or anus. Notify your veterinarian the moment you notice any of these signs.
Prostate complications are common in old male dogs. Symptoms include abnormal enlargement of the prostate, infections, abscess, and cysts. Tumors may also develop.
Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are both endocrine disorders that also commonly affect aging dogs. Hypothyroidism in old dogs occurs when the thyroid gland produces inadequate hormones. Hypothyroidism signs include hair loss, obesity, lethargy, dry hair coat/excessive shedding, reduced heart rate, skin hyper-pigmentation, high blood cholesterol, cold intolerance, and anemia.
Hyperthyroidism in old dogs is usually caused by over-secretion of hormones by the thyroid gland. If not treated, it can result in kidney failure and heart disease. Common symptoms include weight loss, vomiting, poor body condition, increased urine, hyperactivity, enlarged thyroid, increased appetite, difficulties breathing, including others. Both conditions are treatable.
Old dogs are at a great risk of developing heart disease. The most common heart disease in dogs is the chronic valvular heart disease. The disease is caused by the thickening and irregularities of the heart valves, leading to abnormal blood flow in the heart chambers. The result is heart enlargement and heart failure.
Routine veterinary care is important as it may help identify these life-endangering health conditions early. Be sure to provide your furry friend with the best care and treatment for increased comfort and longevity.