Friday, 02/18/2022

Dogs become more susceptible to illness as they age. Aging is a natural process, and with age, your senior canine companions go through physical and mental shifts. You can witness a decline in their coat quality and reduced skin elasticity. 

You also may witness hair loss and white hairs in your pet, and with age, their eyes become bluish, pearl-like, or cloudy. According to studies, the prevalence of heart disease, kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, and mammary tumors is higher in older dogs. Another research has depicted that one of the significant causes of death for dogs is old age. The survey shows that 13.8% of pets died due to diseases related to old age. 

As a pet parent, becoming aware of information about the common health problem in senior pets can help increase your pet’s longevity as you prioritize disease-specific reforms. It helps to extend life or improve the welfare of your furry friends by facilitating an earlier diagnosis.

We have discussed the key illnesses seen in senior dogs and how you can deal with them in this article. You also can scroll through the infographic given to get a quick understanding of the common health issues seen in older dogs.

Common Health Problems in Senior Dogs

Common Health Issues In Senior Dogs

Pets, like humans, are susceptible to illness as they age and it is crucial for you to watch out for any concerning symptoms or behavioral changes in your pet. Taking prompt action and consulting a vet can improve the quality of life of your pet. Let’s scroll through some of the common health issues found in senior dogs:

  • Canine Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is a common health problem seen in senior dogs. It is a joint disorder that leads to the structural and functional decline of the joint. The ailment results in lameness and pain. Usually, large dog breeds are more prone to arthritis, and so does if your pet has obesity. 

If your pet suffers from the ailment, you may witness the signs such as unwillingness to play, lameness, hunching or bunny hopping, reluctance to claim stairs, whimpering, or flinching due to pain. Your pet may also face difficulties standing, or the pet may chew or lick the aching joints. Pets also display changes in behavior such that they may show irritability or aggression. 

How Does a Vet Diagnose and Treat this?

If you witness these signs or suspect your pet is exhibiting signs of osteoarthritis, consulting a vet is vital to evaluate the situation. Vets perform physical examinations and also may recommend X-rays of the affected joints. 

It helps to assess the degree of damage to the joint. The treatment focuses on pain management, reducing inflammation, and slowing down the development of the disease. The treatment process is multidimensional, along with different therapies and drugs vets also suggest for weight management and maintaining an active lifestyle. 

Joint supplements like Glucosamine & chondroitin are used to reduce inflammation, promoting healing. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are also used in the treatment process to reduce pain & decrease inflammation in the joints. As a preventative measure, you should keep a routine check with your veterinarian for a healthy diet for your senior pet and an exercise routine to keep your dog’s joints healthy.

  • Cognitive Dysfunction

Cognitive dysfunction syndrome CDS is another prevalent health issue seen in geriatric dogs. It is a neurobehavioral disorder characterized by an age-related decline in cognitive abilities, which also affects functioning and causes behavior changes in your pet. 

A study has revealed Cognitive dysfunction syndrome is exceptionally high. Scrolling to the statistical data, it has been seen that CDS ranges from 28% in 11 to 12-year-old dogs, and in 15 to 16 years old, the prevalence is even higher, i.e., 68%.  

Canine cognitive dysfunction may vary, but in general, you witness the signs such as disorientation or confusion, enhanced sensitivity towards sounds, increase in barking, whining or howling, reduced response to the command, pacing or wanderings, aggression, anxiety or irritability, repetitive activities, etc. You also may witness compulsive behaviors such as walking in circles. 

How Does a Vet Treat The Ailment?

 Consulting a vet is always a wise choice if you suspect any of such behaviors. Besides your geriatric pet, get regular examinations as the veterans help address nutritional needs, obesity management, pain control, and physical and mental changes. CDS mange may comprise environmental and behavioral interventions or dietary modifications, supplements, pharmaceutical treatments, and complementary therapies.

Medical practitioners may suggest Selegiline hydrochloride in the pharmaceutical intervention, as Selegiline is a selective and irreversible inhibitor of the enzyme MAO-B. MAO-B is known to be responsible for the catabolism of catecholamines, dopamine, and, to a lesser extent, norepinephrine and serotonin in the central nervous system. Complementary therapies often include aromatherapy, herbal supplements, acupuncture, acupressure, massage, etc.

  • Canine Diabetes

Diabetes, an endocrine disease, is also common in senior canines. It primarily happens when the pet’s pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, which is a hormone essential in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.

 If your pet suffers from the ailments, you may witness signs such as increased thirst and urination, Excessive hunger, Weight loss, Cataracts, Weakness, Lethargy or excessive sleepiness, Dry, dull coat, urinary tract infections, slow-healing cuts or bruises, etc.  

Certain canine breeds are more prone to the disease, such as Samoyeds, Cairn Terriers, Pugs, Toy Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, Dachshund, Doberman, Finnish Spitz, Fox Terrier, Golden Retriever, etc. The cause of diseases in your canine may also be a genetic predisposition or acute or chronic Pancreatitis, auto-immune disease, hyperadrenocorticism, etc. Specific possible causes also can be a high-fat diet, obesity, etc. 

How Does a Vet Treat The Ailment?

The veterinarian’s treatment of the diseases depends on how advanced and severe the illness is at the time of diagnosis. Usually, in the early-to-mid stage of canine diabetes, vets suggest changes in diet and exercise levels as the initial first step. Dog foods with a high sugar content should be avoided, and canine food with dog food with a low glycemic index can help. Some senior canines with mild or moderate diabetic symptoms may also require daily insulin shots for the rest of their lives.

  • Canine Cancer

According to data in the USA itself, cancer is one of the most common causes of death in canines, and many dogs develop cancer. If your senior pet is Un-spayed and unneutered, they are more vulnerable to mammary and testicular cancers. Apart from that, some of the prevalent cancers seen in senior canines are mast cell tumors, lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, squamous cell carcinoma, oral melanomas, and osteosarcoma. 

The positive news is that pet cancer research is rapidly expanding. More modern Cancer Screening Tests are available in animal care clinics that help identify some of the more common cancers. Though signs of cancer vary in pets, some of the most common symptoms include difficulty eating, swallowing, breathing, urinating or defecating, Lumps, bumps, swellings or discolored skin, and non-healing wounds. Also, you may witness vomiting or diarrhea, lack of appetite and weight loss, lameness, or bleeding from the nose, mouth, or other body openings.

How Does a Vet Treat This condition?

The treatment of senior canines depends on certain factors such as your pet’s age, general health of the dog, tumor type, biological behavior of the tumor, and cancer stage. Your pet’s health status plays a vital role in therapy cases. Also, the vet evaluates the dog’s ability to tolerate cancer treatment. Treatment usually includes chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, or holistic or herbal therapy.

  • Renal Failure In Senior Canines 

Renal failure in the senior pets is seen when kidneys are no longer effectively able to perform. It leads to building up waste and toxins and wreaking havoc. The health issue is referred to as kidney failure or renal failure. Several factors can lead to kidney disease in your pet, including stones that block off the urinary tract, rupture of the bladder, or aging of the kidneys. 

Typical disease symptoms may include enhanced thirst or urination, decreased urination, reduced appetite, weight loss, pet fur may dull, lose shine, or become shaggy. Besides, you also may witness vomiting, brown discoloration on the tongue or the pet may develop an ammonia smell to their breath.

What does this treatment entail?

To detect the ailment veterinarian will perform diagnostic blood and urine tests or other tests may also be performed to track the underlying causes of renal disease and to discover the stage of the disease. Treatment may include IV fluids or more aggressive treatments such as dialysis or a kidney transplant based on the disease severity. 

Apart from the discussed ailment, specific other common health issues such as vision loss, urinary tract disease, liver disease, obesity, and periodontal disease are also quite common in older canines. 

How To Find A Vet To Take Care Of A Senior Dog?

Finding a proper fit vet based on the senior canine’s health care needs is sometimes a challenging task for pet parents. While you initiate a search for a vet, one of the significant factors you should keep in check is the clinic distance from your residence. 

If an emergency happens, and you may need a vet at the earliest; hence, a clinic near your local area is ideal. Besides, while choosing the vet, check the service range of the animal care clinic and if they attend house calls or not. 

Another aspect to keep in a tab is the well-equipped comprehensiveness of the clinic. However, if you find it a hefty task to find your perfect fit match, you can utilize an online vet directory such as GreatVet. Leveraging the platform, you can search vets based on your zip code, neighbor, or area, and a list of top-rated vets appears in front of you. 

Final Thought 

To prevent the common health issues in senior dogs, your support is the utmost necessity with your age. Consult your vet to prepare a healthy nutrition diet plan and maintain regular play and exercise for your pet’s healthy weight and active mind. 

With the proper blend of appropriate nutrition, social interaction, vigilance on your end for signs of illness, and a veterinarian’s medical skill, you can ensure a great life for your furry friend in their senior years. 

Disclaimer: The article does not intend to offer medical advice; it is written for informational purposes only. The information provided in the article should not be treated as a substitute for medical practitioner advice, nor can it be treated as an alternative to diagnosis & treatment. To treat pet anxiety seeking medical advice is strongly advised and before using the CBD treats on your pet, seeking veterinary guidance is of utmost necessity.