Senior Dog Health
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Senior Dog Health


Senior dog health is something every dog owner has to be concerned about. An older dog has different behavioral patterns, dietary needs and health concerns than younger dogs. Most breeds of dogs can be considered ‘old’ as they cross the 6-8 year mark. Most changes can easily be observed from the outside. In their early stages, most dogs are happy to spend more than 80% of their time in chase, pursuit, fun and play. They are restless and full of energy. But as they approach the golden years, they tend to slow down noticeably. Now they’d be happier to spend 70-80% of their time snoozing or lazing about. As a dog ages, many signs of potentially serious health concerns are often overlooked by owners as a normal part of growing up. But older dogs do not have the reserve that younger dogs do and an owner cannot afford to play the waiting game with an older dog.

Senior dog health depends to a great extent upon what the dog eats as he ages. An older dog has certain different dietary requirements when compared to his younger counterpart. Senior dogs require less fat and protein since they expend mush lesser energy than when they were young. You may be able to continue with your regular diet, but portions should be much smaller. Specially formulated diets are available for older dogs that contain fewer numbers of calories while still giving the dog that much needed feeling of fullness. Obesity is a common problem that plagues senior dog health. As your dog ages, it is better to get your dog to maintain a low body weight than to have her work it off. On the other hand, some older dogs begin to lose interest in food. In that case, a complete check up with the vet is needed to rule out any possible diseases.

Some common senior dog health problems include:

Arthritis: As dogs age, they begin to feel the stress and pull in their joints. If your dog appears sore immediately after getting up or has difficulty getting down, he may be suffering from arthritis. There are many medications available to ease the pain of arthritis.

Dental problems: A good dental health is necessary for the overall health of the dog. The teeth, mouth, gums and general health of the dog is affected by the dental health of the dog. As a dog ages, he is vulnerable to tartar, gum diseases and tooth loss. Oral cancers, metabolic diseases, infections may also lead to bad breath and gum problems.

Sudden loss of sight or hearing: Infection, age-related infections, poisoning and cancer may lead to any of these symptoms. Some dogs develop diabetes as they age. In some such cases, cataracts develop suddenly and worsen quickly. A check up with the vet is necessary. Diabetes and kidney problems are to be suspected if you see a sudden change in a dog’s intake or output of water. Urine leakage or ‘accidents’ in old age also signal problems like infections, loss of sphincter control or any other underlying disease.

Hair loss and itchy skin: Some dogs, like humans, experience drying up and scaling of skin. This may lead to itching and uneasiness. As a result a dog may scratch himself and cause more harm. Like humans, dogs also suffer from cognitive problems and dementia or loss of memory. There are treatments available for these kinds of problems. General confusion, inappropriate barking (in the middle of the night, for instance) getting mixed up with night and day times, personality changes etc are common senior dog health problems. Senior dog health problems are quite evident to owners who are vigilant and are on the lookout for weaknesses as the dog ages.

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