Do aging dogs have special issues I should know about?

As your dog begins to age, you might notice a few physical and behavioral changes. Just like aging humans, aging dogs move a little bit slower. They aren’t as playful and they have aches and pains they didn’t have when they were younger.

A dog’s aging process is similar to humans except it progresses faster. While humans don’t usually show signs of aging until they’ve reached their fifties, sixties, and seventies, some aging dogs begin having problems before their seventh birthday.

How old is your dog?

You’ve probably heard that a single dog year is equal to 7 human years. Dogs do age faster than humans, but aging differs depending on the size and breed. The American Veterinary Medicine Association’s Senior Pet Care FAQ chart shows that 7 dog years is equivalent to between 44 and 56 human years. The American Kennel Club explains that a dog can age 15 years during their first year. Aging slows somewhat after the first year.

Watch your dog for problems associated with aging

It’s important to know your dog’s age. It can remind you that your dog is older than he seems and might need additional care. If you pay close attention to the signs of aging, you can make sure that your dog gets the medical help he needs.

Vision difficulties

Aging dogs sometimes experience varying degrees of vision loss. They also develop cataracts and other eye conditions. If your dog has eye problems, he might start bumping into objects around the house. He might also have difficulty interacting with objects or navigating familiar spaces. Your veterinarian can tell you if your dog’s eye condition is due to aging and if it’s treatable.

Oral health problems

If your dog develops bad breath, loses teeth, or any other mouth problems, he may have treatable dental and gum issues. Oral problems often worsen as your dog ages, especially if he doesn’t have regular dental checkups and cleanings. Your vet can examine and treat your dog, and test for any dental-related infections.

Movement difficulties

Aging dogs often have pain and difficulty when they walk, run, or climb stairs. They also experience diminished leg strength. This is sometimes due to degenerative diseases such as arthritis. If your dog has these problems, your vet may prescribe medication or recommend an exercise routine.

Cognitive Decline

Some aging dogs develop behavioral issues related to cognitive decline. Not all dogs experience this problem. It’s still important to know the signs. The article “Cognitive Aging In Dogs” cautions owners to be aware of disorientation, decreased social interactions, sleeping/waking cycle disruption, housetraining problems, anxiety, and other signs. Talk to your veterinarian if your pet manifests these problems.

Other Problems

Aging dogs experience a variety of additional issues. Your pet may develop cancer, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, and heart disease. In fact, aging dogs develop many of the same diseases and conditions as their aging family members.

It’s essential to maintain a regular pet check-up schedule. Your veterinarian can diagnose many age-related problems and treat them during the early stages.

Contact Hebron Veterinary Hospital

If you have concerns about your aging dog, give us a call at (860) 228-4324. Remember also, that it’s important for all aging dogs to have an annual senior pet wellness visit.