Much like the way humans go through their aging process, senior canines and felines experience almost the same signs of aging — signs like diminishing eyesight, grey hair, hearing problems, arthritis, and general health concerns.
If you have a dog who is already aging, this article will help you identify some of the health challenges to expect and also give you tips on how to help your aging dog navigate through its old age.
Before you begin to wonder what conditions to expect and how to handle these conditions in your dog it is vital for you to know when your dog is approaching its golden years the question now is when is old age for dogs?
Old age for canines
A lot of us believe that one human year is equivalent to 7 dog years.
Well, that is not exactly accurate. Take for example large breed of dogs such as the great Dane are usually considered seniors when they reach six or seven years of age, whereas dogs of smaller breeds such as the toy poodles are not considered seniors until they become teens.
It is even more interesting that dogs like poodles have been discovered to live as long as 20 years of age.
That goes to say that some breed of dogs outlive others so when it comes to knowing when your dog is a senior it is a matter of breed and size.
Just as there are general rules in a lot of matters, in this one there is also a rule of thumb. When your dog approaches seven years or becomes older that dog must be considered a middle or senior aged dog however it is important to have a consultation with your birth to confirm if your dog is approaching its old age and what best healthcare maintenance would be necessary.
For dogs that are of a smaller breed, your vet may recommend that you wait some more years before he or she begins to do any geriatric monitoring.
Common physical signs of old age in dogs
Just like each human is different and experience changes in different degrees each dog have their differences as well.
A dog that has begun to age may exhibit different characters and experience different changes in behavior may begin to become aggressive and also display pack order dominance issues.
Social changes like this usually appear as a result of outward signs of canines advancing years, and sometimes it could be due to dementia factors related to diminishing or worsening eyesight or hearing and also debilitating pain.
Below are some very general physical science that you must watch out for when your dog begins to age and also ways to help your pet adjust to these changes.
Arthritis, slowing down, or muscle loss
You may begin to notice that your dog has been acting slow as it grows older. While this is not always the case for every dog, you still have to look for subtle changes in how your dog lays down gets up or even use the stairs.
Do you notice any stiffness or hesitation? Whenever there is a change in the weather like when it is raining or cloudy, does the condition get worse?
As dogs begin to age, it is common for them to experience arthritis, particularly for large breed dogs.
And this can occur in any joint-most especially the legs spine and neck that many medications and treatments available to help your dog is the pain and discomfort that comes with arthritis so whenever you notice your dog slows down in its activities make sure to see a vet.
As dogs grow older, they may also experience mild loss of muscle mass, especially in their hind legs. They may also have some muscle atrophy which is most notable in the belly muscles and on the head, and that can signify diseases like Cushing’s disease and masticatory myositis. Ensure that your voice shakes to know if there is any muscle loss.
Some of the ways you can help your dog through such a challenging. Maybe through medications recommended by vets for pain management you can also make use of physical aids such as lamps and lift harnesses.
Another reason why your dog might be slowing down in old age is the condition called hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is an endocrine disorder which is very common in dogs. The good part is that the situation is easily diagnosed and can also be treated medically with proper veterinary care.
Graying around the face
When humans begin to grow grey hair (except for those who naturally have grey hair), it is a sign of aging,, and this also happens with dogs.
Although some dogs commonly show a little bit of grey when they are middle-aged when they begin to hit five to six years of age, you begin to notice more graying especially around their face.
Did you see your dog becomes startled suddenly whenever it feels you coming from behind, or has it become challenging to wake it up after sleeping? Do not just assume that your dog is growing stubborn definite or hearing loss may be the cause of this new change in behavior.
Not so much can be done to fix age-related hearing problems however a vet examination must be carried out first so that any other medical problems can be ruled out. The Chances are conditions like a foreign infection body in the ear or even growth could cause a hearing problem for your dog.
If your dog has been confirmed to have hearing problems you need to be extra careful so that you can protect it from hazards such as kids and cars that may not hear coming dogs are intelligent enough to learn to adapt well when you signal dem using your hands.
This is one reason why it is essential that your dog is cross-trained from a very early age so that it not only understands what you tell it but it also understands hand signals.
Bluish or cloudy eyes
As dogs begin to age their eyes often appear a little bluish sometimes transparent case appear in the people area this is a healthy physical sign of aging, and there is even a medical term used to refer to it.
Lenticular cirrhosis is the medical term for bluish eyes or cloudy eye condition however vision usually is not affected.
Please note that lenticular larosas should not be confused with cataracts well cataracts are white and opaque in dogs just as the way they are in humans, lenticular lenses is cloudy or bluish as earlier explained.
If your dog’s vision is affected by cataract you have to consult your vet immediately.
Just as we have advised that you have to be extra vigilant with hearing loss if your dog has a condition such as cataracts you also need to pay extra attention so that you can easily prevent accidents or other hazards.