As our senior pets age, just like us they will find it harder to fight off infections, and their immune system will not be as good as it used to be, and they will also develop some health conditions. Having said that, it can be easy to put any changes in their behavior down to aging, but it is always better to be safe than sorry, and take them to the vet if anything seems out of the ordinary. Moreover, let us take a look at some of the more common problems for senior pets and what to look for.
One of the most common problems in senior dogs is gum disease, which may not seem such a big deal, but if left untreated can lead to some serious health issues. In addition, gum inflammation, or gingivitis can lead to gum disease, which is where the gums actually pull away from the teeth, and thus this creates pockets, which can then become infected, and even lead to bone loss. Gum disease can even lead to infections in the blood, in turn leading to possible serious damage to one, or more of the internal organs, so be sure to take him for regular checkups, especially if you notice bleeding or swollen gums or gums that are tender and red.
Another condition that is becoming more, and more common today in our senior pets is Diabetes, and usually occurs in dogs around the age of 8 or 9. Diabetes is basically improper functioning of insulin in the body, and can often be hereditary, and is more common in females than in males. Symptoms of Diabetes are weight loss, irritability, increased urination and thirst, and cuts that heal slowly, or slow healing bruises, if you notice any of these signs then it is probably a good idea to have a vet check him out.
Blindness is a condition that we’d rather not think of as a common disease in senior dogs, but it is a process that occurs over time especially in many older dogs, yet it doesn’t have to change their lives drastically due to their amazing smell and hearing. Senior dogs that have gone blind can be fine outside on a leash, and they can navigate their home environment without any problems as long as furniture isn’t moved around too frequently. Early signs of deteriorating eyesight is Cataracts, which is a white covering over the eye, while other more obvious signs are bumping into things, falling down and red or irritated eyes.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in senior dogs, and is not very often diagnosed with blood tests in its early stages, so it is important for us senior dog owners to check them out frequently. That being said, be certain to check for lumps, or bumps that shouldn’t be there, bleeding from the ears, nose or mouth, sores or cuts that heal slowly and weight loss. Other things to watch for would be blood in the stool, diarrhea or constipation. However, these are not guaranteed signs of cancer, but if you do notice any of these signs it is always best to get them checked out, cancer has a good success rate if caught early on.
Finally, although there are many common problems for our senior pets, not every pet will get one or more of these conditions mentioned, and if they do develop one or more of these problems, many are treatable if caught early on. Having said that, being a responsible pet owner means that we should check them over thoroughly once in a while, be aware of any changes in their behavior and mood, and report these changes when you see your vet. Regular checkups, and good communication with your vet is important, and can play a vital role in detecting conditions early on, so even if you think a change in your pets behavior is insignificant, tell the vet anyway, it could just save his life, and help him to easily enjoy his senior years too.