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Health Problems in Older Dogs

Health Problems in Older Dogs

Like humans, dogs also face many health complications with increasing age. Health problems in older dogs can become critical if not attended to in time.
Niharika Arya
Is your dog walking slowly? Is he taking time to stand and sit? Does he remain inactive and seems unusually sleepy all the time? If the answer is yes, these can be signs that your dog is getting older. Like humans, dogs also face some health problems in their old age. These signs should be taken seriously as they can prove hazardous for the dogs. Large or big breed dogs grow older earlier than smaller breeds. The life expectancy of small breeds is 15 years or more, medium breeds is 11 to 14 years and giant breeds live less than 10 years. Hence, we can say that the old age problems will be noticed at different ages in different breeds.

Common Health Problems in Older Dogs

There are many problems which are faced by older dogs. These problems usually go unnoticed, as they develop very slowly. But the symptoms should be noticed by the owners in order to render perfect treatment as soon as possible. Following are some of the common health problems which are observed in older dogs.

This is one of the most common problems faced by almost all dogs. Overweight or big dogs usually face this problem. Difficulty in walking, sitting or standing, difficulty in climbing stairs, swelling in the joints, stiffness, are some of the symptoms of arthritis. Daily exercise will help the dog to get relief from this problem to some extent. Anti-inflammatories like fish oil, food rich in vitamin C or bromelain may be helpful in getting relief from arthritis.

Visual and Hearing Problems
Dogs may develop vision problems in their old age. Most common among them are glaucoma and cataracts. This may also lead to cloudy eyes and even loss of vision if not taken care of in time. They may also experience hearing loss. The owner needs to be attentive in such cases as the dog may stop responding to commands. Food rich in vitamin A, E and C may be helpful in coping with this situation.

Cognitive Dysfunction
Excess sleep, weakness, deafness, urinating at inappropriate places, coordination loss, not recognizing the owner are some of the symptoms of cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Anipryl is a drug which is usually recommended to help your dog in coping with cognitive dysfunction symptoms. But do not give this drug without consulting a vet.

Dental Problems
Older dogs may face teeth and gum problems. Excessive salivation, bad breath, difficulty in chewing, swollen gums, weight loss, are some symptoms of dental problems in older dogs. You can apply Oregon-grape or echinacea directly on the gums with the help of cotton. It will promote new tissue growth and will help in reducing pain.

Diabetes is mostly observed in older dogs. Frequent urination, vomiting, weight loss but increase in appetite, poor hair coat, are some symptoms of diabetes in dogs. Healthy diet rich in fibers will help in speedy recovery. Feed him small meals, three times a day, this will help his body to utilize the sugar and insulin in a proper manner.

Gastrointestinal problems
Like old people, dogs also go experience a lot of gastrointestinal problems. Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, constipation, black stool, blood in stool, are some of the symptoms of gastrointestinal problems faced by dogs. Feed him fresh food and keep him away from stale and spoiled food. If you want to change dog food, then do it gradually. These small things will help him avoid gastrointestinal problems.

Heart and Lung Problems
Older dogs may face lung and heart problems which can be very serious at times. Excessive coughing, difficulty in breathing, fatigue, weight loss, fluid build up, gray gums are some of the symptoms of these problems. Consult a veterinarian for heart and lung problems as they need to be treated as soon as possible.

Kidney Disease
Frequent urination, poor appetite, weight loss, nausea, constipation mouth ulcers, are some of the symptoms of kidney diseases. As soon as one notices such symptoms, consult a veterinarian. Supplements of Vitamins B and C, sodium bicarbonate, calcium and omega 3 fatty acids will be very helpful in getting rid of kidney problems.

Cancer may be observed in dogs of all age but older dogs are more susceptible to it. Bleeding from any body opening, bad odor, difficulty in breathing and urinating, abnormal swelling, loss of appetite, weight loss, are some of the symptoms of cancer. Antioxidants like vitamins E and C, green tea and coenzyme Q10 can help in preventing cancer, and can also slow down the growth of cancer.

Other Health Problems
Apart from the above mentioned diseases there are many other diseases which may create problems in older dogs. Hypothyroidism, liver disease, prostate disease (for male dogs), seizures, bladder stones, are some other diseases.

To save your dog from these diseases you need to take extra care, specially when they grow old. Provide them a clean and comfortable bed to sleep. Give them fresh water and food according to their body's requirement. Take them for a walk and exercise regularly, as it will help them overcome the problem of arthritis. As an owner, you need to understand your dog and try to provide full support and care when he needs it the most.