On average, a dog is considered to be a senior at the age of seven, although this also depends on its breed and size. Very huge breeds typically age faster than smaller ones. Nevertheless, other factors such as environmental conditions and genetics can also influence how fast a dog ages.
While it’s impossible to alter the course of nature, you can collaborate with your vet to develop effective solutions aimed at improving and prolonging your dog’s well-being in spite of senior dog health problems it may be facing. Here’s a list of common health problems that affect senior dogs and some senior dog health tips to help transition your dog into the senior years.
1. Joint Issues
As your dog gets older, it will start developing orthopedic problems, for instance, degeneration, and joint inflammation. The most common source of stiffness and joint pain in dogs is osteoarthritis. This degenerative disease causes loss of lubrication loss and a subsequent wearing away of cartilage in the hips, shoulders, and leg joints.
Although there’s no cure, there are various treatments that can decrease pain while slowing down the progression. This disease typically occurs at an older age, but it could also emerge during a dog’s early years.
Breeds that are more susceptible to orthopedic issues like arthritis include Great Danes and Labrador Retrievers. Symptoms of the disease include limping, and trouble sitting and standing. Since the disease is progressive, it worsens over time. Nevertheless, if you address it immediately, you can keep it under control with medication, regular exercise, and a proper diet.
It’s worth noting that nutrition plays an important role in decreasing joint issues in dogs. Ensure you give your dog a healthy and nutrient-rich diet to sustain joint health. If joint issues progress, consult your vet for a prescription. Dogs with this disease can also gain from stem cell therapy-a procedure where a dog receives stem cell injections in the affected area.
A dog’s weight can have a considerable effect on his health, particularly as a dog ages, given the decrease of activity. Beware that older dogs with excess weight are more vulnerable to senior dog health problems, for instance, diabetes.
Moreover, obesity can lead to and complicate the treatment of joint issues, heart disease, and certain kinds of cancer. To prevent or prepare for this problem in the senior years, ensure the dog obtains adequate exercise that it can tolerate safely. Other senior dog health tips include feeding him age-appropriate meals to ensure he’s obtaining the appropriate nutrition balance along with the correct calorie amounts.
3. Kidney Issues
Aging kidneys usually exhibit loss of function as a dog ages. While chronic kidney failure is incurable, proper treatment can manage it, and help extend your dog’s lifespan and enhance the quality of life. Kidney conditions and issues can also arise as a side effect of medications for treating other senior dog health problems.
Therefore, get your dog examined every six months by a vet. Regular blood work can identify kidney disease in the initial stages and prevent it from worsening. Proper nutrition is equally vital in maintaining your dog’s kidneys, so if you’re uncertain about what to feed your dog, seek consultation.
4. Vision and Hearing Loss
Tissue degeneration in the ears and eyes can produce varying degrees of blindness and deafness in aging dogs. Senior dogs are also vulnerable to cataract development. Cataracts are cloudy layers that develop over the eye lens and lead to partial or total blindness.
Although the surgical removal of cataracts is possible, dogs depend more on their sense of smell than eyesight when navigating and exploring their environment and don’t have much trouble getting around following vision loss.
Hearing loss on account of aging is generally permanent. You can prepare for this by cleaning and caring for your dog’s ears regularly to delay its progression.
Dogs, like people, can lose cognitive function over time, producing symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s or senility. Developmental changes may occur that are initially subtle but can become extremely severe, leading to poor life quality. Symptoms of dementia include disorientation and confusion, barking or whining for no apparent cause, and getting lost in familiar environments.
These symptoms can also signify other conditions, so you should consult your vet if you recognize these behaviors. Like arthritis, dementia lacks a cure, but certain medications can help alleviate or address symptoms effectively. Other ways to control it include behavioral alteration training or environmental adaptations.
Age increases the likelihood of cancer, so it’s advisable to get them checked periodically. Different cancers produce different signs that you may casually dismiss as those associated with aging. That’s why routine screening is crucial.
Lab work, diagnostic imaging, or an exam can identify underlying signs but treatment options for cancer differ based on the cancer type and stage. The sooner it’s identified, the better the chances of survival.
Initial signs of canine cancer begin with gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, or gain. Apparent signs include bumps and lumps on your pet’s body. Regular pet grooming at home makes it easy to spot changes in the dog’s hair and skin. The only way of diagnosing canine cancer involves taking the dog to a vet.
After a diagnosis, you’ll need to locate a certified oncology specialist. Treatment may involve the removal of cancerous tumors or may involve intensive long-term treatment if these cancerous cells have spread to other areas of the body. Only an oncology specialist will determine the best treatment approach for your dog.
Consider: Senior Dog Health Insurance
As your dog ages, its body undergoes changes that decrease functioning capacity. Other concerns, like glaucoma and hip dysplasia, are common and might affect your aging pet. Taking a senior dog health insurance can be helpful for treating diabetes, joint, and heart diseases.
Ensure you’re aware of age limitations if you haven’t enrolled your pet in an insurance program. Some insurance providers have a maximum enrollment limit, which is typically around 10-12 years.
Don’t wait until your dog develops senior dog health problems to purchase an insurance plan. If you do, the condition will be pre-existing and insurers don’t cover the treatment of pre-existing conditions. Benefits of purchasing senior dog health insurance include
● Your dog might require movement aids
● Aged dogs have more health issues requiring frequent medical attention
● They might need a special diet
● They might require dental treatment and other kinds of treatment
Like most people, you’ve probably developed an attachment to your dog and might not have thought about it. You might not even be thinking of your pet aging, yet it is a natural process that cannot be prevented. You might want to consider senior dog health insurance as a means of providing your pet the care it requires in its old age.