Old Dog

How To Care For A Senior Dog

Just like humans and almost any other animal, dogs experience old age and the various effects that come with it. Therefore, taking care of a senior dog and watching over their health is different from the experience with a younger dog.

Senior dogs are prone to some diseases, illnesses, or other health issues. By watching your dog carefully, early signs of these issues can be recognized. Preventative measures can also be taken to keep your senior dog as healthy as possible. Regularly visiting a vet may also be beneficial in keeping track of your dog's health.

Old Dog

Make it a priority to keep your dog at a healthy weight. Ensure that they are eating healthy foods made with clean ingredients. Take them out regularly and ensure that their environment has minimal stressors.

Keep their teeth and gums regularly cleaned. Help your dog exercise and lead an active lifestyle. Doing all of these things may help prevent health issues or control symptoms of ones that already exist.

Common Health Problems

Here is a list of common health issues that affect senior dogs.

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    Dementia
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    Cancer
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    Blindness
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    Arthritis
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    Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome
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    Dental disease
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    Heart disease
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    Hearing loss
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    Hypothyroidism
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    Kidney disease

Below are some useful facts on some of the most popular illnesses on this list.

Dog Dementia

Dog dementia is a pretty common health issue amongst senior dogs. By age 11, 50% of dogs display signs of dementia, with the percentage rising by age 15. With dog dementia, the brain ages and no longer possesses many basic capabilities that are present without dementia. This can cause a plethora of undesirable symptoms and behaviors.

Symptoms

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    Sleep disturbances
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    Forgets house training
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    Anxiousness
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    Pacing
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    Irritability
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    Loss of control over urine and bowel movements
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    Staring
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    Disorientation
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    Less activity
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    Inappropriate barking
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    Loss of appetite
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    Forgets to greet family members

These are some very common symptoms of dog dementia. If your dog is experiencing dementia, they may tend to get lost within the house or get confused with their sense of direction. They may stare at you or blank walls for prolonged periods of time. They may wake up during the night, pace in anxiousness, or have a low tolerance level.

Old Dog With Dementia

A dog with dementia will generally appear to forget learned behaviors and people.

Causes

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    No direct cause is linked
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    May also be genetic or a predisposition
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    May happen with age

Diagnosis & Treatment

If you notice that a few of these symptoms are present in your dog's behavior, it is time to take them to the vet. Upon doing so, make sure you are able to give the vet your dog's health history and a time frame of when the symptoms began. Your veterinarian will perform tests to rule out any other issues and make a diagnosis.

If a diagnosis of dementia is confirmed, there is no cure. However, you can help give your pet a comfortable and happy life while improving their symptoms through exercises and therapy. A vet may also give medicines and a special diet to gear your dog towards healthiness.

Dog Cancer

Some common dog cancers are: Mast Cell Tumors, Hemangiosarcoma, Lymphoma, Osteosarcoma, Mammary Carcinoma, Brain Tumors, Bladder Cancer, Squamos Cell Carcinomas, Malignant Histiocytosis, Melanoma, Mouth & Nose Cancer, and Testicular Cancer.

Dog with Cancer

Cancer can appear at any age in a dog's life, but it typically tends to appear as they begin to age. Here are some signs that your dog may have cancer.

Symptoms

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    Wounds that won't heal
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    Bodily lumps
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    Sores
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    Swelling of the stomach area
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    Sudden weight loss
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    Bodily discharge
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    Troubles with breathing
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    Depression
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    Fatigue
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    Visible pain

Causes

Certain dogs may be at a genetic risk of cancer-based on their breed

Diagnosis & Treatment

To diagnose your dog, you must see a professional. If any of these symptoms occur simultaneously, take your dog to the vet for a check up. The vet will be able to determine whether or not these symptoms are normal and then proceed with testing.

If your dog has cancer, their treatment will vary depending on their condition and age. Treatment may include: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and holistic therapy.

Arthritis

Arthritis in dogs occurs when there are abnormal changes in joints. This typically affects older dogs although it can affect young ones as well. Arthritis can cause pain, stiffness, and more.

Symptoms

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    Joint swelling
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    Joint deformities
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    Hesitancy to move
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    Weight gain
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    Depression
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    Fatigue
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    Weight gain
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    Sleeping for longer periods
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    Pain
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    Walking in a weird form

Causes

Arthritis is a disease that causes stiffness or pain throughout your dog’s body. If your dog is performing slower than usual, chances are they might have arthritis.

Dog with Arthritis

A clear sign of arthritis is when your dog is unable to complete an exercise due to their rigid joints. Read more to find a few methods on how to treat your dog.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Monitor your dog's symptoms and take them to the vet. The vet will be able to assess their condition and decide whether or not they have arthritis.

Although arthritis isn't curable, and can worsen over time, there are some treatments available to help manage the illness.

NSAIDs can be used to reduce pain and inflammation. Chondroprotective agents can be administered for cartilage repair. Pain medicines can also be given. Surgical measures can be taken if these approaches don't work.

Blindness

Blindness can occur in dogs with age. It can also occur in result of diabetes, kidney failure, and hypertension, which are also quite common during a dog's later years.

Symptoms

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    Becoming easily scared
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    Hitting into walls
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    Loss of vision over time
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    Eye color changes
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    Fear of going outside
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    Unable to find toys.

Causes

Dog blindness occurs because of Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome. Also known as SARDS, this disease is commonly found in dogs as they age. On average, the signs from SARDS begin to show at 8.5 years.

Blind Dog

SARDs has a few negative side effects as well. If your dog has SARDs, they’ll have a harder time navigating through the house, increased food consumption, increased water consumption, and weight gain.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Fortunately, there are some ways to treat blindness in your dog. Younger dogs are more likely to better cope with it than older dogs. As your dog ages, they will utilize their hearing and their smelling senses.

Make sure to remove harmful objects out of your dog's way. Keep your dog's toys, water bowl, bed, and food dish at a convenient location so your dog can find them despite having limited eye sight.

To treat your dog's blindness, you have to speak to them verbally and not through hand gestures.

Transition from your hand signals and start to give your dog verbal commands such as "Lie Down." After a few weeks of practice and your dog will get used to your verbal cues. Once this happens, you can eliminate the need to use hand gestures.

Closing Remarks

As your dog gets older, you have to be even more concerned about their health. You'll have to feed them food that gives them enough nutrients to survive and remain healthy.

And, you have to diagnose them for any health related issues and treat them based off of that information. In conclusion, once you learn how to take care of your senior dog, you'll extend their lifespan and help them remain strong during their final years.

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