Monday, January 13, 2014

Aging Dogs - What You Should Know

What you should know about dog aging, is information that can dramatically affect both your dogs later years and your enjoyment of a treasured companion.

Unfortunately, your dog is going to age right along with you; somewhat faster, actually.? For example, the following represents a fairly realistic yearly comparison of your dog's age (approx. 20-50 lbs.) to human years:

Dog's Age: ???????????????? 5????????? 6????????? 7????????? 8????????? 9????????? 10??????? 11??????? 12??????? 13

Human Years:???????????? 37??????? 42??????? 47??????? 51??????? 56??????? 60??????? 65??????? 69??????? 74

Dog that are well taken care of, feed nutritionally, exercised regularly and visited their Vet regularly, have the potential to extend their lives just as we do, except for the Vet part.

Since you have spent so many years with your pet, you are in the unique position to be aware of changes in your dog's body, behaviors and habits.? It is these changes that often signal issues, both temporary and life threatening.? Your dog is reliant on you, its owner, to seek the help necessary to determine the best course of action in each situation.? Most Vets will tell you that very few, if any of these changes should be treated lightly.? Even the most serious threat can be eliminated or at least held at bay, by have your Vet assess each situation as it arises.? Remember, even if threats can not be cured, your pet's quality of life still the main responsibility.

Let's take a look at what you should know and be vigilant about as your dog ages:

Body changes - Your dog is going to get lumps, skin color changes and bumps in the wrong places.? This is not uncommon amongst dog breeds.? Most often these are simply the result of aging and may be found to be completely harmless.? They may create a problem of movement based on size, for example, therefore requiring attention, such as surgery.? Other maladies such as cancer, Cushing's disease, Arthritis and Hyperthyroidism can contribute to body changes.? Keep in mind that as your dog ages, it may become less mobile or agile and therefore prone to skin sores that may become quite difficult to remedy.

Skeletal System - Bones and joints may become quite sore and bones may become brittle increasing the reduction in mobility and increasing possibility of bone fracture.? You may even see signs of limping, muscle tone degradation, difficulty rising and doing stairs, for example.? A close watch on diet and intake can be helpful.

Depression - Aging can create behavioral changes leading to depression in dogs.? As aging progresses so can body pain.? Exposure to pain, over time, will negatively affect you dog's behavior and could lead to depression.? Excessive panting could suggest chronic stress or pain and therefore could be a good barometer.

Weight/Appetite -? Quite normal for your aging pet to see some reduction in weight as muscle declines or appetite wanes but a major change in either would require a Vet's immediate attention.

Hearing/Dental/Vision Degradation - Not unlike humans, aging dogs suffer disease and degradation in these three areas. Ear infections, increase in wax build-up, or mites can all contribute to a dog's hearing problems. These can cause your dog to have a balance problem or it could become disoriented; all potentially serious issues for your dog's safety.? Dental disease is quite common with older dogs.? You should look for gum inflammation which can indicate infection.? Infections can affect the major organs.? Look for worn teeth that could make it difficult or even painful for your dog to eat, eventually leading to possible weight loss.? Visually, aging dogs are vulnerable to glaucoma or cataracts which, if not treated by your Vet, could lead to blindness.

Dog aging and what you should know of their risks is important for you as a responsible owner.? By being vigilant, detecting problems early and having them dealt with by your Vet can add happy years to your dog's life and to your enjoyment of its companionship.

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