Dogs get older much quicker than humans, and they age at distinctive rates, especially those of different sizes and breeds. As your dog ages, you need to be aware of health conditions that may go unnoticed. By paying attention, you may be able to catch health issues early, making treatment easier and saving your dog from pain and discomfort.
Loss of vision
Deteriorating eyesight is part of the process of aging. If you notice your dog always bumping into things, it could be due to an eye disorder or to a loss of vision. Most dogs develop a little cloudiness as they age but it could also be a sign of cataracts. Ask your vet to rule out eye diseases like cataracts or conjunctivitis that are treatable. You can also get tips on how to help your dog accommodate to deteriorating vision.
Loss of hearing
Has your dog stopped responding when you call? You may think he is being stubborn, but it could simply be because he can no longer hear you. You cannot do much about the age-related loss of hearing, but a vet exam will rule out other issues that could be causing deafness such as a growth or infection. Try to protect your dog from cars and other hazards if he is becoming deaf. Teaching your dog basic hand signals such as stay and sit in early life can be helpful when hearing loss occurs.
Weight gain or loss
When dogs grow older, they usually become less mobile and do not need as many calories. Pet food manufacturers offer foods tailored specifically to the needs of seniors. If an older dog is obese, this increases the risk of many other health conditions like cardiac problems or diabetes. If dogs are underweight, this can also cause health problems, and they may need a more palatable diet with higher calorie content.
Older dogs may either urinate more or have difficulty urinating. Urinary tract infections are fairly common in older dogs. If your dog begins having accidents in the house, you may need to leave out some pee pads. Medication does help with certain urinary problems. If not, dog diapers may be necessary.
Older dogs often display signs of oral problems such as bad breath, tooth decay, drooling and inflamed gums, especially if you have not constantly cared for their teeth. The vet may be able to resolve some of these issues and offer advice to help prevent further issues.
Skin problems and hair loss are more likely to occur when a dog is older. Sometimes dietary changes can make a difference to rashes and other skin problems. Your vet will need to determine the underlying cause of a skin problem to treat it.
Joint issues like arthritis are common in older dogs. When a dog starts slowing down or having trouble getting up after lying down for a while, it could be a sign of arthritis. Adding anti-oxidants and omega-3 fatty acids to the diet may help.