Senior Dog Health: What to Look For
Your puppy has been in your family for so long that you probably shouldn’t call them a puppy anymore. You notice that lately, your pooch is slowing down and prefers to rest on the couch instead of chase their ball around the house or romp around outside. Is something wrong with your senior dog’s health?
Don’t worry: chances are, your dog is just getting older. Just like humans, dogs get less active with age. A wide variety of symptoms can be caused by old age.
Every breed is different, but every dog needs you to change how you care for it as it gets older. Once it hits the age of seven, your pet is no longer considered an adult, but a senior citizen.
Talk with your veterinarian to see what you can do to make sure your dog’s golden years are the best time of its life and how you can prioritize your senior dog’s health.
Just like how humans change in appearance as they get older, dogs do too. If you notice your dog’s fur turning gray around its muzzle, don’t worry, this is completely normal. Some dogs go gray early in their life, typically caused by genetics or stress, and it usually is not a reason to be concerned.
Your dog may still gulp down food in seconds like they haven’t eaten in years, but you notice they are starting to gain weight. Like humans, metabolism slows with age and dietary needs change. The right food for your aging dog can help your dog maintain a healthy coat, keep their teeth clean and promote brain, eye, bone and muscle health.
Regular exercise and warm-ups will help keep the weight off and will keep joints strong.
The average dog sleeps about 10 hours a day. Senior dogs need even more sleep than that, averaging around 14-18 hours of nap time per day. Keep an eye on your dog, though, as less movement can lead to muscle and joint issues.
As dogs age, their joints can become tighter and arthritic. If you notice your senior dog has difficulty moving around or limps, it could be due to arthritis. You can’t entirely prevent arthritis, but you can slow it down and ease their symptoms. Doggy Brace can help support your dog’s limbs and keep their joints happy so they’re not slowed down by aching joints.
Arthritis can lead to muscle atrophy. If your senior dog is avoiding exercise, its muscle mass may begin breaking down, causing thinner legs, a thinner body and trouble standing.
If you notice your pet favoring one leg over the other, this might be caused by hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is common in senior dogs and in dogs with a genetic predisposition for it. It causes the hip joint to deteriorate over time and can cause dislocation. It can be treated with surgery, medications or a Doggy Brace.
Read our article about the differences between surgery and brace if you think your dog is suffering from an injured ACL or hip dysplasia.
Loss of Senses
You call your dog’s name from across the room and your senior pup doesn’t even budge. Don’t worry, your pet isn’t mad or ignoring you. Chances are, it probably can’t hear you calling them.
Hearing loss can be a scary thought, but your dog can still live a happy and long life. Dogs who experience partial or complete deafness often have reduced levels of anxiety and have very little trouble adapting to their condition. As the owner, you need to be sure your dog is in a safe environment or leashed when outside, as they can’t hear vehicles or other hazards coming their way.
You can identify it at home, though a vet exam is needed to confirm if the problem is caused by age or sickness.
You may notice your dog’s eyes clouding over, or see them bumping into furniture or walls. Senior dogs can begin to lose their eyesight as well. There are many causes of vision loss, such as glaucoma, cataracts or diabetes.
If left untreated, your dog could become blind.
Like with hearing, dogs are generally good at adapting to their change of vision as long as they are in a familiar environment. Keep your floors clear of debris and try to avoid rearranging furniture to keep navigation easy for your aging dog. You can also place floor runners to help lead your dog through hallways, lead them through the house with a variety of smells, place wood chips outside so they can identify their favorite bathroom spot, or lead them through the house with a lease until they get comfortable.
Is your dog shivering as it sits outside? Senior dogs get cold easily. As they get older, it becomes harder for them to regulate their body temperature. If your pup loves running around in the cooler weather, consider getting them a sweater to help keep them warm and limiting their time outside. The American Kennel Club has you covered with what sweater will work best for your dog.
Indoors, a doggy bed near a heat source will become your pet’s favorite spot. Avoid using electric heating pads, as they can wear down and cause burns or overheat your dog.
Your dog is your baby and you want to give it to be comfortable and happy as it lives out its golden days. Doggy Brace is here to support your pup during this time as well. We can help support their joints and muscles so they can run around the yard carefree and without pain and prevent injury with our dog ACL brace. We don’t have the fountain of youth, but our braces can help your dog feel like a puppy again. Check out our store today.
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