|Common Health Problems In Old Dogs
May 21, 2013 9:49 PM
As all experienced dog owners know, the later years of a dog’s life can pose fresh challenges, for dog and owner alike. The best way to ensure that your dog has a healthy and happy ‘retirement’ is to provide it with a balanced diet and plenty of mental and physical exercise throughout its life. However, no matter how well your canine companion has been looked after, the hands of time stay still for no dog. Here are a few of the common health problems which senior dogs may encounter, what to look out for and what action can be taken to ensure your dog is as happy and comfortable as possible.
Many senior dogs suffer from incontinence. As with all new complaints, you should get your dog checked out by your vet at the first signs- this will ensure that you know the route of the problem. It could well be that the aging process has taken its toll on the bladder and pelvic floor, similar to the manner in which it can happen to humans. Living with an incontinent dog can demand several lifestyle changes. Toilet trips need to be taken more frequently, more time might be spent in rooms with easy clean floors and you may find yourself having to get up earlier than you would like! For dogs with serious incontinence then there are ‘doggy diapers’ which work in exactly the same manner as they would for a baby- and similarly you will need to ensure they are clean and fresh. You can find incontinence products along with a wealth of other products for senior dogs, such as memory foam beds and dog coats with Dogs Corner.
Hard of hearing
Hearing loss is common in old dogs, but so amazing is their ability to deal with it, that they may well have quite advanced loss before you even notice. The saying goes that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but it is amazing how quickly dogs can adapt to visual signals and commands. However, it will often take owners a long time to remember the changes necessary when living with a deaf dog. In the first few weeks of living with a deaf dog, very few owners don’t make the mistake of wondering why their faithful companion is not responding to their calls!
There are a couple of things to remember if your dog is hard of hearing. In order not to startle them, try to always approach from the front- it is especially important to inform any guests or strangers that may come in to contact with your dog. Nobody likes to be crept up on! You also need to take extra special care if you are out and about. Your dog will not be able to hear any oncoming danger, so make sure you’ve got them in your sights.
Loss of sight
Just as the hearing can go, so can the eyes- but once again you will be amazed at how well your dog will be able to cope. One of the first signs of failing sight is the formation of a greyish glaze over the eye- and whilst it may not mean that your dog is losing its sight, it does mean that you should visit the vets to see what is happening.
If your dog is losing its sight, then you will need to ensure that’s its living environment is kept as familiar as possible. Whilst it is a good idea to remove any obvious sharp edges, and furnishings which might easily be knocked over, it is recommended that you keep the house layout as unchanged as possible. Dogs will remember the routes that they are used to taking, leaving those open is the best way to allow it to move with freedom and comfort. A radio or television left on can also be a comforting and help your dog to get its bearings. Owners will have to remember to keep the house tidy- anything left on the floor can quickly become an obstacle! For those that are worried about coping with a blind dog, at Dogs Corner, our Border Terrier, Spike, has recently lost his eyesight, but he has adapted so well that you would be forgiven for thinking he can see perfectly- until he walks head first into his Sister!
One of the causes of decreased eyesight is diabetes. Indeed it was diabetes that led to our Spike’s loss of vision- and it’s a perfect illustration of why it is so important to get your dog to the vet when you notice any changes in health. There are various different forms of diabetes, and dogs of any age can be vulnerable. However, it is Type 2 diabetes which is most prevalent and the most likely to affect older dogs. Type 2 diabetes is becoming more and more common in dogs, and it is believed that this is linked to obesity. So no matter how much you love your dog, overdoing the treats can have damaging consequences. A lack of adequate physical exercise can also be a key factor.
There are several signs that your dog might be suffering from diabetes. These include increased appetite, weight loss, lack of energy, greying of the eyes and loss of sight, urinary infections and increased thirst. Diabetes is potentially fatal and it is therefore essential that you consult with your vet should you witness these symptoms. Diabetes in dogs can be controlled with insulin, but it is expensive and time consuming- and will entail some fairly major life changes. It will involve serious consultation with your vet- but owners and their dogs can, and do, cope.
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