If your dog is getting older, these tips for caring for them will help you both, thanks to Kim Taylor for Pet Problems Solved…

Tips for Caring for Senior Dogs

Just like humans, as dogs age, they encounter countless health complications. The longevity of your four-legged friend is based primarily on its breed. Smaller dogs have a longer life expectancy than larger breeds. But just because your dog is getting older doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a quality, healthy, and productive lifestyle. These tips will help you properly care for your aging pet and make their last years some of their best.

Tips for caring for senior dogs

How Do I Know if My Dog is a “Senior”?

This is the first thing to consider when deciding how to properly care for your aging pet. What does it mean when a dog is classified as “senior”? As mentioned above, larger breeds of dogs age much faster than their smaller counterparts. That means that large dogs can enter their senior years as early as 5 or 6 years of age, whereas a smaller dog wouldn’t fall into this category until after their 10th “birthday”. Mid-size dogs are considered “senior” anywhere between 6 and 10 years of age. Other factors determine how your pup progresses as well, including genetics, environment, activity level, underlying conditions, and nutrition.

 

Common Conditions and Treatment Options for Ageing Dogs

Some of the same medical conditions are prevalent among canines as they age. Here are a few of the most common ailments your senior pup may encounter.

 

Arthritis

Just like in humans, dog’s joints can experience inflammation over time, causing pain and discomfort. Unlike humans though, your dog can’t exactly tell you that they’re in pain, where, or why. They’re also very good at masking their pain, which means most dog owners don’t notice arthritis in their pets until much later on, when the condition has worsened. Some signs that your dog may have arthritis include the inability to walk for long periods of time, lack of interest in play time, difficulty finding a comfortable position to rest or sleep, or trouble getting in and out of the family car.

There are several things you can do to help ease your dog’s pain and discomfort. Heating pads and padded, comfortable bedding will help lessen the impact on your pup’s joints and could reduce inflammation. While your dog may have difficulty walking and moving around, it’s important to keep them active. Continue taking your dog for walks, even if they’re much shorter than normal. Encourage them to perform some of the same activities they once did, just at a lower intensity. You can also help ease your dog’s pain using anti-inflammatory medications. CBD oil is also said to help reduce inflammation in both humans and animals. If you prefer a more holistic approach, shop now.

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Dental Disease

The tooth and gum health of most dogs can cause concern and complications for pet owners. And this is only more true as your four-legged friend ages. Dental disease, also known as gum disease or gingivitis, occurs when a dog’s gums become inflamed and bacteria in the mouth turns to plaque. This plaque attaches to your dog’s teeth and is hardened into tartar by the amount of saliva found in most dog’s mouths. This plaque and tartar can negatively affect the dog’s teeth, but also its gums. Gingivitis causes pain, inflammation and discomfort. Over time, your dog’s gums may actually pull away from their teeth, creating pockets where infection can grow. Symptoms that your pup may have dental disease or related issues include red, bleeding gums that are tender to the touch. You may notice your dog resisting chew toys and weight loss, if eating becomes too painful. Left untreated, dental disease can spread infection throughout a dog’s body, impacting vital organs.

When it comes to caring for your dog’s mouth, teeth, and gums, prevention is key. There are several ways you can help keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy and inflammation and infection at bay. Start by regularly brushing their teeth. While they may not enjoy this, it’s extremely important and should be done every day. With the right tools, patience, and some advice from your vet, the process should get easier with time. It’s also important that your dog receives routine oral exams and X-rays. Because your dog needs to be put under anesthesia for this process, you don’t need it done often but it’s especially important if you suspect a problem. And lastly, feeding your pet quality dog food actually promotes a healthy mouth. Some foods offer plaque fighting additives and others may actually “brush” your pup’s teeth as they chew. Choosing safe chew toys is another great idea to help preserve the health of your dog’s mouth.

Diabetes

The number of reported cases of diabetes in humans is constantly on the rise and sadly, the same holds true for our canine friends. Diabetes in both humans and animals is caused by the same thing — poor production and performance of insulin in the body. When insulin isn’t doing it’s job, both humans and dogs will feel the effects. These include fatigue, blurred vision, weight loss, increased urination, recurring infections, and the inability to heal cuts and bruises. If you suspect your dog is suffering from diabetes, you should take immediate action. The veterinarian will diagnose the issue and you can then choose a treatment plan.

The easiest ways to treat diabetes in dogs are the same methods used in humans. Adjusting their diet and increasing exercise can drastically improve your pup’s condition. In most cases, your vet can recommend the best diet plan and dog food for your diabetic pooch. Exercise is another key component to any dog’s health but is especially important if your aging pet has diabetes. Regular activity helps prevent sudden spikes or drops in your dog’s glucose levels. If all else fails, your vet may recommend insulin injections to help regulate the condition.

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Cancer

Sadly, this is the leading cause of death in senior dogs. As a dog ages, so does their risk for developing all different types of cancer. Because cancer rarely shows up in your dog’s blood test, it’s important to regularly check their body for lumps, bumps, or other abnormal growths. This is something your groomer can also check. Other signs that your canine may be suffering from a type of cancer are bleeding from the nose, ears, or mouth, drastic change in weight, sores that won’t heal, excessive panting, drooling, or difficulty breathing. Because these symptoms can be signs of other medical conditions, it’s important to have your dog checked immediately if you suspect anything.

Treatment for cancer in dogs is very similar to that of humans. Radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery are all viable options for treating canine cancer. The treatment plan you choose will have a lot to do with your dog’s age, the extent of the cancer, the type, and the long-term prognosis. Every pet owner must make the difficult decision of whether or not treatment is a reasonable and affordable option. 

Signs your dog may have the ‘canine blues’ (and what to do about it)

No one wants to think of the day when their dog is no longer here. But they also don’t want to see their senior dog suffer in discomfort or pain. By recognizing the common ailments that trouble senior dogs and how to treat them, you can take the right steps as a pet owner to improve their condition and make them comfortable.

 

About the author:
Kim Taylor is a wife, mother, and animal lover. She is the proud mom of 2 beautiful girls and one very fat cat, Boots. Kim enjoys writing, yoga, traveling, and volunteering at her local animal shelter.

 

More reading
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Signs your dog may have the ‘canine blues’ (and what to do about it)
Caring for your feline senior citizen 
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