Dogs are not just a fifteen-or-so-year commitment; a true canine companion remains with you for a lifetime. There will come a time, however, when they must age. Though we can’t stop the death of your pet, we can help keep them as healthy as possible, for as long as possible.
As your dog ages, it becomes more and more important to have them examined regularly, and take preventative measures for their health. It’s also essential to watch out for some common issues in elderly dogs:
Arthritis: Like humans, dog joints wear over time. Canine arthritis is not uncommon in older dogs. When it hits, your dog may slow down, be less-than-willing to climb stairs, and may not walk as long.
Weight Gain: As dogs mature, they become less energetic, and their metabolisms slow. This makes it more difficult to keep them at a healthy weight, and they may easily gain too much of it. It’s important to check with your vet about feeding habits to prevent this problem, which can cause others.
Heart Disease: Old age can bring on heart problems, which can lead to congestive heart failure. Sometimes it’s caused by other factors, and sometimes it just comes with age. Know the signs.
Diabetes: Diabetes Mellitus is a disease of the pancreas; your dog becomes unable to process glucose and insulin as he once did. He may show similar signs as a human with diabetes, such as increased thirst, appetite, and urination. The treatment for this is regular insulin shots and a change in diet.
Dental Disease: Your dog’s teeth and gums will wear with time. It may become harder for him to chew as he once did, and he will be more susceptible to tooth and gum diseases. Keep your pet’s teeth healthy from day one, and have them cleaned by a vet regularly.
All these things are more are risks to your dog as he ages. At Pet Vet Hospitals, we perform regular exams of all dogs, including the elderly—ages seven and older. We highly recommend our 7th Year Geriatric Health Check for your aging dog, and regular screenings after that.