The Health Issues That Could Affect Your Older Dog
We love them and they love us, we take care of them and they take care of us, but there comes a time when every good boy and good girl starts to show their age. As your dog gets older, they will start to experience more and more health issues, and they will start to find some of their old favourite activities harder work than they used to.
It’s important for owners to be patient with their elderly pets, and it’s crucial that you keep an eye out for any warning signs and be prepared with some tactics to ease any trouble they’re having. Here are a few things to look out for, and some ways you can make life a little easier on your faithful companion.
Loss Of Vision Or Hearing
As your dog gets older, you may notice that they are not as quick at responding to calls as they used to be. They may also have trouble finding their bowl or spotting where you threw the ball in the park. Cataracts (discernible by a cloudy layer that is a very common part of the aging process for canines, and you can help with a little understanding. Remember to practice hand signals with your pet, so they can interpret your commands when they can’t work out what you’re saying. Even if they can’t hear, dogs are sensitive to vibrations made by knocking on hard surfaces, so a gentle tap might get their attention where calling their name wouldn’t.
Be sure to clean your dog’s ears regularly to clear any blockages and slow the hearing loss down, and remember: even if their sight isn’t as good as it used to be, their sense of smell has always been stronger than their vision!
Losing Their Get Up And Go
If you’ve noticed that your dog is starting to exhibit less excitement about getting up and getting out of the house, this is something that you’re going to want to keep an eye on. While a growing interest in a comfy nap times on their favourite bed or sofa is a natural part of growing older (for all of us, if we’re being honest), if they’re struggling to get up or starting to limp a bit, this is a sign that something is causing them pain or irritability.
Joint pain is a very common issue for older dogs, typically caused by osteoarthritis. While it’s not a reversible condition, there are things you can do with diet and gentle exercise to ease the symptoms, and you should always consult your vet if they’re really having a hard time.
Your dog’s appetite may or may not diminish as they get older, but something that is going to happen is that their body’s ability (or what they think of as their body’s ability at any rate) to handle any and all food that passes in front of their face is going to go downhill. You might start to see some issues such as vomiting, diarrhoea, a bloated stomach or refusal of food, all of which are obviously tell-tale signs that something is not as it should be with their digestion.
While you are rarely going to be able to keep them from eating everything that they shouldn’t (don’t we all know it!), a good way to make sure that everything is running smoothly down there is by cutting out dog foods that are highly processed and making the switch to a raw food diet. The best senior dog food is fresh and packed with the natural vitamins and proteins, and Bella & Duke have a range of tasty options for dogs of all ages.
Changes In Behaviour And Outlook
We’re all entitled to the occasional bad day, especially as we get older, but if you start noticing persistent mood changes in your dog, it might be time to call your vet. There are some behaviours that become increasingly common as they age, such as increased anxiety about you, their owner, for example, so remember to be patient and offer plenty of reassurance when leaving them on their own. Activities that they maybe didn’t find stressful before, such as meeting new dogs or meeting new people, may suddenly be a bit too much for them to handle.
Some anxiety is perfectly natural and it’s important for you to find a healthy balance of keeping them active while keeping them to a familiar routine. However, there are some warning signs that you should report to your vet should they arise. If you find that your dog is pacing back and forth, or sitting and staring at the same space, this could be a sign of canine cognitive dysfunction, or CCD, which is the canine equivalent of dementia. The earlier you spot it and tell your vet, the sooner you can get to work on making your dog’s life easier.