It can be hard to face this reality, but your dog’s health may deteriorate at a more or less advanced stage of his life, around 7 or 10 years, depending on the breed. You see his behavior change, he seems more aggressive because of pain related to various pathologies, and his sensory abilities diminish.
Your wish is of course to ensure him happy days in the best possible conditions in your company. Our experts provide you with some information on common diseases and essential needs of the old dog, along with useful and reassuring advice on health alternatives.
Health problems in older dogs
A dog’s hearing may be partially or totally impaired. This handicap can make him more fearful, because he will miss information about his environment.
Just like in humans, cataracts and glaucoma that reduce vision can occur with age. These problems are not always visible, but your dog will tend to bump or trip regularly.
From the age of 7 on, the kidneys may no longer be able to eliminate waste products from the body properly. This progressive disease presents symptoms such as loss of appetite and weight, frequent urination, a strong need to drink, vomiting or diarrhea, or even depression.
Often linked to obesity or genetics, this pathology develops various symptoms. Weight loss, altered appetite, apathy, blindness or even urinary tract infections are signs that can put you on the right track.
Cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases
A persistent cough, increased fatigue, or abnormal shortness of breath are signs that should alarm you. Your pet’s heart may be in pain.
Oral and dental diseases
Your pet’s bad breath may be a sign of gum infection. Excessive tartar and loose teeth are also common and disabling.
Responsible for half of all deaths in dogs, cancer manifests itself by the appearance of lumps, bleeding and sometimes a loss of appetite.
This aging of the joints is often the cause of pain in your aging dog. This disease is unfortunately aggravated by excessive weight and lack of activity.
Chronic pain due to another pathology can lead to a deterioration of the dog’s psychological state. Degenerative lesions caused by brain aging can also be the cause of depression.
The needs of the aging dog
In order to help the dog age peacefully and to provide relief for the senior dog, some of his needs should be addressed. Regular check-ups with the veterinarian and up-to-date vaccinations are among the animal’s essential needs.
Some actions become more difficult to perform and his condition may require specific accommodations: installing a ramp so he can get into the car, or investing in an orthopedic memory bed to relieve pain related to osteoarthritis will ease his potential suffering.
A few adjustments are also welcome inside the house as well as outside to facilitate his end of life. If your dog has difficulty going up or down the stairs as he ages and you are unable to carry him, installing a safety gate will limit access and prevent a possible fall. For small dogs, investing in a carrier or stroller is ideal when you want your dog to enjoy long walks that don’t allow him to keep up.
Food is also at the heart of his needs: it is recommended to choose food adapted to his age, for example in the senior kibble ranges. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, and adjusted in calories to ensure optimal maintenance of your pet’s metabolism.
Daily remedies for the well-being of a senior dog
The love and care you show your pet should not deteriorate with age, as this can lead to a worsening of his symptoms. Remember, man’s best friend is loyal and devoted throughout his life and deserves special affection in his most difficult years. Continue your daily walks as much as possible, and if necessary, don’t hesitate to shorten them if walking is difficult, and to offer more frequent walks in this case.
The progress made by veterinarians and accessory designers is such that, although it is not yet possible to treat all the ailments associated with aging, they can be considerably alleviated.
The elderly dog is often in search of comfort and warmth, and if a simple memory foam cushion can be enough to alleviate some pain, or even to improve his health, the heating mat brings a real well-being and an optimal comfort to the animal weakened as well emotionally as physically. Combined with a few massages and lots of petting, your companion will only have eyes for you! Known to relieve joint problems aggravated by the cold, the heating mat is the must-have accessory for this winter that you must offer to your good old dog.
It is important to place your heating mat under your dog’s bed, or in the cover of the Newton Zolia orthopedic memory dog bed. The adjustable thermostat is present on some mat models. It is also possible to integrate a small heating mat inside the dog house. The mat should not cover the entire space of the dog house so that your pet can lie down freely in its shelter without being forced to stay warm. Under no circumstances should the heating mat be displayed outdoors, as it is designed to be in a kennel, a sheltered area protected from the elements or under a covered terrace.
Canine osteopathic care allows to relieve tensions and pains, and sometimes to restore a certain mobility in the elderly animal. Osteopathy, when properly practiced, can limit the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and therefore the side effects that result from them. If your dog suffers from incontinence, don’t be upset if an accident happens from time to time. He can’t control it all, so don’t hesitate to try an absorbent mat, and if that doesn’t work, diapers are a solution that shouldn’t be abandoned.
It is important to give your dog plenty of time to rest, but this should not interfere with an active life. On the contrary, to avoid sedentarization of your companion, continue to offer him various physical and intellectual stimuli, while respecting his new rhythm of life. In any case, each dog ages in a different way, and your veterinarian will be the best person to advise you and to perform the necessary examinations.