Taking care of a senior dog can come with a decent set of challenges that you’ll face as your canine companion begins to experience the negative effects of aging. Even though your furry friend has gotten older, they’re still just a big puppy to you, so it makes sense that you’d want to see them healthy and vibrant well into their old age. If your dog has started showing signs of slowing down lately, be sure to be on the lookout for the five most common ailments seen in older dogs:
1. Joint Pain and Problems
Joint pain and reduced mobility are often the first noticeable signs that a dog is starting to age. The most common problem areas are the shoulders, legs, and hips. Hip dysplasia is a particularly painful and debilitating condition that should be treated as early as possible. Fortunately, you can find plenty of tips for treating hip dysplasia in dogs, and treatments can be effective if it’s caught before the condition progresses into the advanced stages.
2. Vision and Hearing Problems
As dogs age, they tend to suffer from tissue degeneration in the eyes and ears, which can lead to varying degrees of blindness or deafness. Older dogs are also at risk for developing canine cataracts a disease that causes a cloudy layer to form over the lens of the eye and leads to partial or complete blindness. Be sure to clean your dog’s ears and have their eyes checked regularly by a veterinarian. Be careful not to lodge ear wax deeper when cleaning their ears.
Much like humans, dogs tend to suffer from impaired cognitive function as they get older, often exhibiting symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s or senility in humans. If you notice your dog seems confused or disoriented often or appears to be lost in a familiar place, they might be developing dementia. Other signs to look for include excessive irritability, unexplained barking and whining, and frequent potty accidents. If you catch doggy dementia early on, it can be treated with medication, so talk to your vet if this appears to be a problem.
4. Cardiovascular Issues
Also, like humans, dogs tend to have heart problems as they get older. The most common disease is congestive heart failure (CHF), which causes fluid to back up in the lungs, heart, and chest cavity due to the heart’s inability to pump blood effectively. If you notice your dog becomes tired and runs out of breath easily or suddenly loses consciousness, these may be signs of canine CHF.
Older dogs will often develop moles and growths of all kinds, and many of them won’t be cancerous. However, the same as in humans, as dogs age, they’re definitely at a higher risk for developing all forms of cancer. Be sure to take your dog in for regular checkups and bring any strange lumps or bumps to the attention of your vet.
Other Problems to Watch For
While the five problems mentioned above are the most common, it’s certainly not an all-inclusive list. Keep an eye out for gastrointestinal issues, obesity, skin and hair disorders.