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Signs that your dog is aging

Signs that your dog is aging

Signs that your dog is aging

Dogs age much quicker than human beings. Though it may sound a little weird to think of your seven to eight years of dog as old, it stands true for the genus. Times flies quickly and the little pup you brought home could be now showing signs of getting old. Depending on the breed of your dog, the rate of growing old varies. A large breed like a Giant Dane is considered senior at around six years old, whereas a small dog like a Chihuahua may not be considered old until they are seven to ten years old. That is why, you as pet parents should be aware of the signs of aging in your particular breed of dog so that you can help them age gracefully.

Physical signs of aging

Cloudy eyes- Just like in humans, eye cloudiness is a common ailment in senior dogs. It could be due to cataract or other diseases that signal loss of vision. Since it happens gradually, you might not notice it right away. But if you see your dog having trouble locating a toy on the floor or they start bumping into things, you should get alert. Most often these are easily treatable and do not affect vision, but it sure is a sign of your dog getting old.

Stinky breath- Dogs of all age groups might have horrible breath if they refuse to brush their teeth or do not let their owners take oral care of them. But as their age progresses, it is common that they have tooth decay, gum disease or other mouth infections that make their breath all the more stinky. While it was easier for them to fight infections in younger days, as their age advances the immune system gradually weakens. That is why they suddenly start showing symptoms of bad oral health.

Less active and agile- It is fairly common in older dogs to start showing signs of arthritis or other bones and muscular problems. Owing to this they tend to slow down and refrain from playing and jumping as before. When the ailment turns serious, they might even refuse to get up from their place and keep licking their limbs to soothe them. If you notice that your once active dog is now slowing down and losing interest in all activities, take him to a vet. Some supplements or a dietary change could make them slightly better equipped to deal with the pain. Take slower and shorter walks and switch to a less gruelling exercise routine as suggested by your vet.

Changes in weight- Dogs that have been less active in their young days tend to gain weight as their age advances. This requires you to change their diet plans according to their exercise routine to maintain a healthy weight as obesity is another serious issue to battle. However, it is also common in senior dogs to lose weight as a result of reduced muscle mass. Sometimes senior dogs have reduced appetite or suffer from digestive illness or simply have poor absorption of nutrients. You should pay attention if your dog loses more than 10 percent of their body weight in a few months or over a year. Consult your vet for any distinct changes in the weight of your senior dog.

Mental signs of aging

Grumpy and prefers solitude- It is a real pain for pet parents to see their once bounding bundle of joy turn grumpy. This could be due to an underlying physical problem associated with their aging process. They might be in constant pain due to arthritis, oral health or any other physical discomfort. The senior dogs sometimes want to be left on their own and do not prefer your company as before. This could be because they fear you might want to play with them or try to pat them where it hurts. Older dogs need more rest and sleep and hence prefer to be left in their napping place.

Canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome- Similar to Alzheimer’s in humans; CCDS can bring about pronounced changes in your dog’s everyday behaviour. It is a dementia that affects 14 to 35 percent of dogs over eight years old. The common symptoms include confusion and disorientation, increased anxiety, house soiling, increased barking, forgetting commands and cues that they once knew and other marked changes in their activity level. While there is no cure for CCDS, some medications can help cope up with the symptoms to a great degree. Talk it out with your vet to know better.

How to help your aging dog

It is no less distress for you to see your dog age and showing various signs of physical and mental discomfort. While there is little you can do to slow down the aging process, you can sure help them age gracefully. The first and foremost thing you can do is remain in constant touch with your vet to diagnose and treat signs of aging at the earliest. Seek their advice to bring about when and how much changes you need to make about their diet and exercise schedule. Your canine friend has given you so many years of unconditional love and loyalty. Isn’t it our duty and responsibility to help them bide their golden years of life with as much pride and self esteem as always?

Comments

  • You have just made me feel better about what I see in my 13 1/2 year old Bichon Maltese cross dog. She has moments where she physically jumps straight up from sleep looking like she has been jabbed with something sharp. The non hearing of simple commands and less agility. She has just had her yearly physical and the Vet didn’t come forth with any of this information when I told her what we had noticed in our wee dog. We hate seeing her age, it’s heart breaking.

    Lynda MacPherson on

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