Like humans older dogs are more prone to diseases and problems as they get older. While you should be taking your dog to the vet for regular checkups, as most dog owners leave long gaps between each checkup (usually a year), it’s worth keeping an eye on your dog’s health yourself in case anything crops up in between checkups. Should you spot anything concerning, get in contact with your vet immediately.
Who Needs to Know This Information?
The symptoms below are for the most common ailments found in older dogs. Although you yourself will be keeping an eye out for these symptoms it’s worth printing out a copy and putting it on the fridge so that you, your family and anyone else who looks after your dog (such as a pet sitter or neighbor) know what they should be looking out for as well.
Arthritis Pain, Stiffness
Arthritis pain and stiffness are common in older breeds of dog, especially in the back legs (hip dyslasia). This is especially common in breeds such as German Shepherds, Bulldogs and St. Bernards. The symptoms for this are pretty obvious; you will notice your dog feeling stiff when it gets off the ground and this stiffness can continue for several minutes while it tries to walk it off. Although these are measures you can take to help with arthritis and stiffness (fish oils from sardines for example), you may need to make some adjustments around the house for the dog such as fitting a pet ramp if your dog has trouble climbing steps around your house.
Reduced hearing is a common problem for older dogs of all breeds and in many cases it can lead to complete deafness. Although this is quite a common problem for dogs related to aging, it’s still worth taking your dog to the vet should you notice any symptoms – e.g. your dog not hearing you properly when you call its name, or having problems waking up for a sleep. While a vet age-induced hearing problems, he or she can check for anything else which might be causing the problem such as a tumour or infection in the ear.
Cloudy or “Bushy” Eyes vs. Cataracts
It’s not uncommon for older dogs to face problems with their eye health and vision. Hazy or blurry pupils (lenticular sclerosis) is a sign of aging and usually not a health concern. Cataracts or white spots on the eye are a serious concern however as these can impede your dog’s vision (See “Is it a Cataract or Lenticular Sclerosis?” from PetMD. You should get in contact with your vet if you notice these developing on your dog’s eyes.
Diabetes, Kidney Problems & Urine Leakage
Urine Leakage is often a sign that your dog is getting older and has less control over those parts, however it can also be a signal that your dog has some kind of infection. Keep an eye on the amount of water your dog is drinking. If you notice a sudden increase and there’s no natural cause for it (e.g. warmer weather or a warm house) take your dog to the vet as he or she may be suffering from a kidney infection.
Your dog is getting older and sadly he’s no longer the playful puppy he once was. Don’t expect him to be as eager to play Frisbee or go running with you as he was when you first got him. Make sure you adjust to their change of pace, otherwise you risk stressing them out.
Many thanks to our guest blogger for all of the great information on dog care in the twilight of life.