5 Ways to Recognise Signs of Dog Aging
- by Rufus and Coco
Aging is a natural process for both people and pets, and it can be somewhat challenging to tell when your dog needs to be cared for differently.
Senior dogs need a different routine, and they might also need a different diet. They also have to be taken to the vet for check-ups more often than their adult counterparts. But here is how you can tell when your mate needs a bit more care and attention as they enter their senior years.
How to Recognise Signs of Dog Aging
First of all, what is a senior dog? Dogs have a different life span compared to people, so it can be difficult to spot when they’re stepping into their senior years.
Most vets agree that pets older than 7 to 8 years can be considered seniors. This is also the age when some health conditions begin to show up, thus requiring you to take your pooch for more check ups than usual.
Like people, old dogs start to have a slower metabolism. They also need fewer calories due to less activity, so there are specific changes that must be made to their diet.
If your dog is spayed or neutered, they’re probably exhibiting a light tendency to be overweight or obese. In their senior years, this could be even more problematic.
Excess weight can lead to diabetes or other complications, not to mention that the fatty tissue puts pressure on the rest of your dog’s internal organs - from their spleen to their pancreas, kidneys, or liver.
Never be complacent when it comes to food. Your preferred course of action should be to talk to your vet about what senior dog diet best suits your dog’s health status.
Moving around becomes more difficult
Some signs, such as being reluctant when it comes to jumping on and off the couch or climbing stairs, can tell you that your dog now has to take it easy. As your dog ages, they become more likely to develop degenerative diseases such as arthritis.
While these conditions cannot be cured completely, their progression can be slowed down. Your vet can recommend supplements or safe NSAIDs for the pain that your dog might experience should they have this condition.
You can also choose different types of exercise besides walking, such as going for a swim. Giving your dog baths with special salts or other products can also soothe some of the pain.
Helping your dog to lose weight also takes off some of the pressure that’s constantly being put on their joints.
Changes in vision and hearing
While people can get hearing aids or glasses or even have surgery to correct these changes due to aging, many dogs do not have that choice. This is because, by the time an eyesight or hearing problem is diagnosed, it’s likely to have gotten to the point that nothing can be done to improve or reverse it.
There is the option of your dog going through surgical procedures for their eye vision, but if they start to lose their hearing, all you can do is adapt and make changes to your routine and living space so as to best deal with this change.
If your dog’s eyesight is not what it used to be, they might bump into things around the house or have a hard time locating the objects in their surroundings. As for hearing deficiencies, you might begin to notice that your dog is not as responsive to you calling their name, or to the noise that other animals around them might make.
Oral hygiene is extremely important for dogs. Some vets recommend using water additives for preventing (at least to some extent) plaque and tartar, but you will also have to go through the hassle of brushing your dog’s teeth at least once every couple of days if you want to prevent bad dental health.
Naturally, bad breath can also show up in adults, and it can be a sign of health problems. But as in the case of our canine friends, it is an extremely common symptom of old age.
When you notice this symptom, the best course of action would be to go to the vet and see what options you have available. Tooth extraction is sometimes recommended if it is in an advanced state of decay. Leaving it to develop an infection or even lead to localised periodontal disease can put your mate’s health in danger.
Senior dogs can experience most of the same symptoms that people with dementia can exhibit. Called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, this condition tends to affect at least 1 in 10 dogs over the age of 8.
Some signs you might notice are momentary confusion, anxiety, and sometimes being withdrawn and fearful of factors that have never caused them to be nervous before.
There are brain health supplements available these days, and while they might not cure the degenerative disease itself, they largely improve and manage its clinical manifestations. You can also help stimulating your dog’s brain through simple exercise and play or engaging them in a game of dog puzzles.
Aging can have various symptoms in dogs, and that’s because every pet is unique. Talk to your vet about what you can do to improve your dog’s health. You can also ask for advice on how you can prevent these conditions right after you’ve adopted your puppy to help you prepare better.