Keeping senior dogs healthy involves keeping a good dialogue going with your vet so that both of you can monitor the signs and symptoms of a dog’s advancing years and any changes in health and personality. Make sure you take your dog along for check ups on a regular basis and if you haven’t instigated these already, begin giving him weekly check ups to check his coat, ears, eyes, paws and nails, and check the condition of his teeth which will deteriorate over the years and become worn.
As your dog gets older he may succumb to a range of illnesses and conditions that will need prolonged treatment and monitoring. They are likely to be either degenerative conditions, such as late onset diabetes, or arthritis, or failing health of the internal organs such as kidney, heart and liver. Some dogs may also develop cancer, or cataracts leading to blindness. When that happens, it may be that treatment is prolonged and disruptive to your dog, not to mention difficult for you and your dog to cope with.
Another aging illness to look out for is the Cushing’s disease in particular. It can often be mis-diagnosed as simply symptoms of old age, but are entirely treatable and reversible. If you find signs and symptoms of your senior dog drinking and eating far more, is urinating frequently and has a poor coat condition and weight loss. It may just be the Cushing’s disease, as a possible cause and you have to make sure that your dog is diagnosed properly.
Senior dogs may also develop Urological and Arthritis problems and may also show a greying of the hair around the eyebrows and muzzle and perhaps be less able to take as much exercise as they used to without tiring a little sooner. His hearing and eyesight may be affected too.
Early diagnosis is key in determining the best course of action to take, and in many cases surgery followed by a course of chemotherapy and or radiation ill give your dog a longer life expectancy. However your vet will also be able to help and support you through any decisions regarding prognosis, and in some cases may need to help you come to a decision about whether to let your dog suffer further surgery or debilitating treatment.
Knowing about these conditions in advance will mean that you can be prepared for his old age and help him reach his last years with as much dignity as possible.
After all, isn’t that the very least you can do for an animal that devotes his life to being your friend and companion?