Even though we all go through it, many owners don’t realize when their dog reaches old age. Most breeds hit their senior years as early as seven years old. Dogs at this stage in life will require different care regimes, so it’s important to spot the signs so you can give him what he or she needs. Here are some key signs of ageing to look out for in your pooch.
Cloudy eyes or vision impairment
Eyes can cloud up gradually, so it can be difficult to notice right away. This is common and won’t affect vision, but watch out for signs of redness. Cloudiness in the eyes can also indicate sickness or cataracts, so seek advice from your vet. Many owners don’t notice their dog is losing their sight until the symptoms are severe. If your dog doesn’t respond to the ball you threw, it may not be that he or she is not interested. They might not be able to see what’s in plain sight.
You may notice your dog being clumsier. If they struggle to find their food bowl or begin bumping into things, their vision could be deteriorating. To make their life easier, clear all clutter off the floor. To help your dog get around the house, appeal to their innate sense of smell. Dogs rely on their noses far more than we do, so mark each room in your house with a different scent.
We all slow down as we age, and dogs are no different. Older dogs may begin struggling to get around. Your dog may start to have trouble jumping in the car or climbing the stairs. These problems could also be a sign of arthritis, so be sure to ask your vet for advice when you notice signs. You may have to reduce your dog’s exercise routine or introduce a new one. If your dog’s a water baby, swimming is a great option as it’s gentle on the body.
Senior dogs often have a harder time handling stress. Things that weren’t issues before, such as visitors entering the home, might become so. Some dogs might become clingier while other dogs might want to be left to themselves more often and have their own calming space to retreat to.
You can help your dog by keeping floors free of clutter, taking frequent short walks, or playing food puzzles to increase mental stimulation. Maintain a consistent routine so they always know what to expect. Most importantly, patience is a virtue. Dogs pick up on our mood, and any negativity could contribute to their anxiety.
A loss of cognitive ability is common with aging. Your dog may forget simple things like how to navigate around obstacles or get lost in areas he’s not familiar with. In some cases, your dog may not even recognize people he knows. He may also have a harder time performing tasks or learning new tricks. If your dog starts urinating in places he’s not supposed to, this could be a sign of memory loss.
No matter the cause, if your dog starts behaving differently, have him checked out by a vet. If it does come down to getting older, you can help your dog with medications and supplements as well as simply being patient with him. Be sure to help him when he gets confused or lost.
When doggy breath gets really bad, it could be a sign of oral cancer, gum disease, tooth decay, or infection. As dogs get older and their immune system weakens, they’re unable to fight off infections as easily as they did when they were younger. Along with a good dental cleaning, your vet may decide to do X-rays and blood work to find the root of the problem. With all the health risks of having bad teeth, your old dog will be much happier, healthier, and more comfortable with a quick visit to the vet for dentistry.
It’s not surprising that an older, less active dog might gain weight. You may need to adjust your dog’s diet and exercise to maintain a healthy weight, but you should also pay attention if your senior dog loses weight. This could be the result of reduced muscle mass, which is common in older dogs. A reduced appetite, poor absorption of nutrients, or a digestive illness can also contribute to weight loss. Keeping your dog healthy and happy is essential to the quality of their life. If your dog loses more than 10 percent of her body weight in a few months, or even in a year, consult your vet.
The best thing you can do is to check in with your vet if you notice any of these physical or mental changes in your dog. Your vet will be able to prescribe treatment for any issues and advise you on changes you can make to help your canine companion. Our dogs have given us love and loyalty since day one, so we owe it to our canine companions to make their golden years as comfortable as possible.