Depending on the breed of dog you have really depends on the type of health conditions they may have in their older years. Although many will often have similar health problems as they approach their final years equally. Having said that, they are not that different from us when it comes to their senior years, developing poor eyesight, have less energy, putting on weight, and even becoming slower and turning grey. Almost half of dogs end up dying of cancer, which again many people suffer from, but here we will discuss the many health problems in senior dogs, so that you can see the early signs, and get any treatments that may be available, or needed just to help make your best friend comfortable for the conditions he may have. Therefore, read on to learn more.
The first outwardly seen signs of a senior dog is greying of the coat, usually starting around the muzzle, as well as becoming slightly less active. You may find he may not want to chase the ball, as much as he did in his earlier years, this is a sign he is slowing down, because he has less energy. This is also a time when he needs less fat, and more fiber in his diet, because the later years he will put on weight, and obesity is a very common problem among older dogs, so speak with your vet about diet change and maybe some supplements too.
Another health problem that can occur in older dogs is blindness, or their eyesight becoming very poorly. Therefore, it is recommended if this is the case not to rearrange furniture, because many dogs can navigate their way around familiar places, if everything is as it was when their eyesight was good. This is also the time that arthritis can set in, and although there is no cure for this, there are medications that can ease pain and make it a little easier to live with. Along with arthritis there may be joint pain, which may lead to him being less responsive to petting, sometimes even getting agitated or even annoyed. In addition, he may seem to be off his food, and just like us when we just sometimes want to be left alone when we are in pain, he may react in the same manner.
With that said, it is also common, especially in older dogs, to develop calluses, usually on their elbows, and this is, in part, due to them spending more time laying down. Keeping that in mind, if he is laying on a hard surface, it may be wise to provide him with a soft bed, and they do sell orthopedic beds now for dogs, which will help prevent the calluses from worsening. Moreover, as the dog gets older, their nails can become brittle, so you need to be especially careful when clipping them, and you may have to clip his nails more frequently due to the fact that he is not as active, and won’t wear them down so much naturally.
At this point in their life, it is important to keep up on their vaccinations, because older dogs are more prone to illness, and disease than younger dogs due to their immune system not functioning as effectively as it did in his earlier years. Dental disease is another common problem among senior dogs. Therefore, one should brush their teeth regularly, because dental issues can lead to more complicated diseases later on. Also, if a senior dog does get an infection, or sickness he will more than likely take much longer to get over it then when he was younger.
Other health problems that can arise in senior dogs are respiratory problems due to their lung capacity being decreased, and they may tire much quicker. There may also be a decrease in their liver, and kidney function. However, there are tests for this, and certain treatments are available if caught early. Temperature changes may also effect them differently, because they can’t regulate their body temperature as effectively like when they were younger. Therefore, he may be more prone to feeling the cold, or hot temperatures during the cold and hot months.
There are many health problems in senior dogs that can show up, and not all dogs will get all of them, as each dog breed is different, and there are many senior dogs that are quite healthy until the very end. Being aware of possible health problems means that you can sometimes catch them early enough to either treat them, or give them medication to ease any pain. Having said that, if you notice changes in your dog’s behavior, don’t just put it down to old age as it may be medical and treatable. Finally, always pay a visit to your vet if you feel something is not right, as it’s always best to err on the side of caution to help ensure your best friend stays health especially in their senior years.