Like all animals, as dogs age they tend to develop health problems unique to
older dogs. Many dog owners have a difficult time accepting this fact and
think that their lively pooch is not an older
dog and will not have health
problems. Dogs can, however, show signs of aging as early as seven
years old. Older dog health problems generally affect larger breeds
earlier than small breeds that tend to show signs of aging around 10 to 12 years
of age. The fact is that senior dog
health problems will eventually be a concern for every dog owner.
Common Health Problems Facing Older Dogs
All dogs are different and, depending on their size, breed and activity level,
will exhibit health problems differently. However, there are common health
issues that may manifest in all senior dogs including the following:
Joint and bone problems
Unlike a little puppy who has an endless supply of energy, an older dog will
tend to slow down and take longer to lay down or stand up. Instead of
bounding up the stairs your senior dog might take each stair one at a
time. Your dog may develop arthritis, an inflammation of the joints
causing pain and discomfort, which is generally the cause of this slowing
down. There are a host of anti-inflammatory drugs that your veterinarian
can suggest to reduce the discomfort caused by arthritis.
In many cases, an older dog will have problems with their eyes as they develop
cataracts or even glaucoma. A cataract will become obvious to the owner as
the eyes have a cloudy appearance and tend to reflect light. Senior dogs
may also develop glaucoma, an increased amount of pressure on the eyes, and can
cause more serious problems if left untreated.
The entire circulation system and many of the major organs are taxed in older
dogs. The heart, lungs, liver and kidneys all become less efficient and
the immune systems can become weak and vulnerable to viruses and bacteria.
Serious health problems may develop in your senior dog as some of the symptoms
develop gradually. It is your responsibility to maintain your older dog’s
health and remain informed of the possible senior dog health problems that
Helping Your Older Dog Overcome Health Problems
As an aging dog inevitably develops health problems, you can help alleviate many
of the symptoms and keep your pet comfortable. The most basic thing you
can do is simply pay more attention to your senior dog making sure you’re aware
of the changes taking place. Brush your dog’s coat daily and ask your vet
if there are special shampoos to help with her skin and coat. Spend time
rubbing your hands on his coat feeling for bumps or lesions. Be patient
when your dog needs a little extra time walking up the stairs or jumping up into
the car. Make sure you make regular visits to your vet and stay current on
vaccinations. Brush your senior dog’s teeth regularly and have them
professionally cleaned occasionally. Provide regular exercise while also
making adjustments needed for your dog as she ages.
As your older dog slows down, you might have to adjust her diet to help
compensate for the reduction of energy for both her weight as well as her coat
and her circulation system. Not only must the overall calorie intake be
reduced, but you can also feed your senior dog specially formulated foods made
to fit their particular needs. Try to purchase the most expensive, best
quality food you can afford and avoid greasy table scraps.
It’s an inevitable fact that dogs age, but you can make a difference in helping
your older dog overcome health problems. Keep in mind that in the last
eighty years or so the average lifespan of dogs has increased from 7 years to
12. Expanding your knowledge and paying attention to your dogs health will
help ensure your dog lives a long and comfortable life.