Older Dog Health Concerns and Treatments

Owners of older dogs must cope with special challenges in keeping their pets healthy and happy. By remaining vigilant to signs and symptoms of aging, you will keep your dog by your side for as long as possible. Below is some important information about the signs of aging, kinds of diseases in older dogs and how being proactive can enhance, as well as prolong, your older dog's life.

Sign of Aging in Older Dogs

Dogs reach old age by the last third of a typical lifespan for their respective breeds. You might notice your older dog has less energy than he or she used to; this is due to a natural slowing of metabolism. You should also be aware of the increased risk of disorders and diseases that an older dog faces in the later years, including arthritis, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, and hip dysplasia. Obesity worsens all of these conditions, so maintaining an older dog's ideal weight with the right diet and exercise is essential. Also remember that older dogs are more accident-prone than younger dogs, so keeping floors in good repair to prevent falls becomes more and more important as time passes. Here are three of the most serious complications of aging in dogs and how to treat them:

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure, known as CHF, is a painful condition that may afflict dogs at any age, though elderly and overweight dogs are more prone to CHF. Dogs with CHF accumulate fluid in their lung and chest cavities because a weakened heart can no longer pump blood effectively. Symptoms of CHF include coughing, difficulty breathing, dizzy spells, sudden fatigue, agitation, potbellied-looking abdomen, bluish tongue and gums, and weight loss. No cure exists for CHF and treatment includes drug therapy as well as vitamin supplements. In addition, you can make changes in your dog's lifestyle to lessen the effects of CHF. Offer your dog foods low in sodium and high in protein in addition to regular exercise. Regular home and office dental care prevents gum disease, which can cause heart infections in dogs. Keeping a food journal will help you and your vet monitor the effects of diet on your dog's heart health. If a dog collapses in the middle of any activity, this is an emergency situation for which you should seek medical attention immediately.

Kidney Failure

Aging may also impair kidney function in dogs, possibly resulting in full on renal failure. Chronic renal disease sometimes goes undetected for years. You should be alert to symptoms of this condition, including excessive thirst, excessive urination, weight loss, fatigue, and bruising easily. Electrolyte injections has been shown to slow the progression of renal disease in dogs.

Arthritis and Hip Dysplasia

Arthritis may worsen with age or develop in old age, causing significant joint pain and stiffness in dogs. With impaired mobility, your dog may begin to limp or experience difficulty running and climbing stairs. Hip dysplasia, an abnormality of the hip joint, is one cause of severe arthritis. Regular non-strenuous exercise, combined with medication and nutritional supplements, can help mitigate the frailties brought on by arthritis. Losing weight takes the pressure off stressed joints in dogs with arthritis; a warm bed eases the pain of dysplasia.

How You Can Keep Your Dog Healthy

Generally, you are certain to notice that aging causes your dog to look and act differently. Graying hair and irritability, for example, are common. However, you should never assume physical and behavioral changes in your dog is simply due to old age. Tracking symptoms, keeping check-up and follow-up appointments, and providing preventative care will go far in keeping your dog younger longer. By being proactive in your dog's schedule and observing his or her actions will directly impact his or her life expectancy. Pro-activeness on your part will ensure that you can catch a disease as it is beginning and treat it, resulting in a better prognosis for your dog.