Common Conditions of Senior dogs

Common Conditions of Senior Dogs: A discussion with Dr. Akshay
R: Hi, doctor….! Many pet parents have older dogs and they keep on asking us about common conditions that affect their senior companions. So, we have a senior dog, we are aware that he’s not as agile as he used to be, he sleeps more, he eats less, etc. What signs or symptoms should we look for in an aging dog?

V: Old age for dogs comes with a whole set of conditions typically associated with an advanced age, just like in humans’ case. As you said, we might notice our pet is not so eager to go out for a walk, he has a hard time getting up from the floor, he can’t jump on higher places like his favorite couch, he eats less and sleeps more, he can’t hear to well when we call him or he can’t see properly and looks disoriented. These are all signs of old age and that is why it’s very important to get our pet checked by a vet every 6 months or every time we notice something is just not right (he’s more lethargic, he refuses food, he won’t come to you when you call him).

The most common conditions for senior dogs are generally associated with joint pain (arthritis), eye problems (cataract), constipation (your dog might have a stool only once in two days or even less), cognitive dysfunction (the dog shows signs of confusion, it takes some time until he manages to obey a command or till he responds to your call), hip dysplasia (a common problem for giant and large-sized breeds like GSD, Saint-Bernard, Rottweiler, Great Dane. The quality of life decreases and your dog is in constant pain), urinary incontinence (the dog will not be able to hold it for longer times, he might need more walks so he can relieve himself more often. Small accidents will happen, as he might pee inside the house.)

R: These are all important topics, and we’ll cover them individually in our next episodes, but i want you to tell pet parents of older dogs what can be done about these conditions and how they can improve their pet’s life quality?

V: Some of these conditions can be improved in different ways. For example for constipation, you can feed your dog less protein and more fibers, like greens and vegetables. If that also doesn’t help, you can incorporate coconut oil or salmon oil into his food. In severe cases (if your dog hasn’t had a stool in a week or more), you will have to take him to the vet for treatment.

If your senior dog has joint pain you can give him special supplements to alleviate his pain and help sustain the joint function. Other conditions might require a surgical solution if recommended by the veterinarian, and this is the case for hip dysplasia.

Generally, your dog’s life quality can be improved by regular check-ups, supplements, appropriate diet and a lot of care. If you notice any change in the dog’s behavior, any signs of discomfort, any changes in the way he walks or he reacts to stimuli, if he refuses food or water, or on the contrary if he drinks too much water, if he doesn’t have a stool or doesn’t pee for longer periods or he is in pain when doing so, these are generally red flags and you should immediately take him to the vet. Monitoring your pet closely definitely impacts his life and it can extend also.

R: In what other ways we can help our ailing friends?

V: Be patient. Your dog doesn’t have the same reactions as he used to when he was younger, so be patient when you take him for a walk, allow him to take his time. Don’t let him on high places where he’ll have difficulty in getting down from. It may be his favorite couch or bed, but if he can’t get up there by himself, he’ll definitely not be able to come down on his own either. So make sure you are always around when he’s on higher spot. Make his meal times regular and give him access to plenty of fresh water. Avoid giving him unhealthy treats or foods, even though they are his favorite. A piece of sausage or a little bit of your cake may create a lot of trouble for a senior dog’s digestive system.

R: Thank you, doctor! Keep an eye on our next episode of the Petzz video series, when we’ll talk about hip dysplasia in senior dogs.

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