Changes in older dogs will happen and can be very painful to watch, but they are much easier to handle if you know what to look for.
However, these changes may be different in certain breeds, and depending on the breed, may be a lot different.
Small breeds of dogs will have changes in their hearts a lot more than a medium size breed.
Larger breeds will have a lot more difficulty with joint pain and the potential for arthritis than small or medium breeds.
Owners can help their dogs adapt to aging with the proper medications as well as the proper nutritional supplements, and they will need both to adapt to their aging bodies.
As owners, we all must also adapt the dog’s changing environment.
Behavioral changes in older dogs are one of the first things that you will notice, especially separation anxiety.
You will notice that your dog will become very anxious when they sense that you are leaving, especially if they see a suitcase.
With this condition, dogs that have been very low keyed may become destructive.
They may also begin to bark continuously, howl, and may also salivate uncontrollably.
If they are very upset, they may even urinate or defecate inside, something they have never done before.
In severe cases of separation anxiety, you may even have to sedate your dog mildly just to calm them down.
Nutritional Needs and Weight Changes
Just like us when we age, your dog’s metabolism will start to slow down, and as a result they will have a decreased need for calorie intakes.
This may not always be the case, but with most all breeds they will slow down, and as the years increase, their energy decreases.
Owners should be very concerned with this and change feeding habits, as weight problems in older dogs can be especially dangerous.
Their diet must also change, as they will now need more fiber but a decrease in fat.
Supplemental needs will also increase, and the best supplements for older dogs are Vitamins A, B1, B12, and E.
The mineral Potassium, Selenium, and Zinc are also critical for older dogs, as well as supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin.
Hair Color and Skin Changes
This will happen to all dogs and they will start to show a bit of graying actually after five years, and depending on the breed, it may stay mild or may intensify with age.
The most noticeable areas will be the muzzle and around the eyes.
Your dogs hair will also become thinner and most likely slightly duller, but be very careful to watch this closely, as it could also be the signs of an underlying illness or a biotin deficiency.
Cloudy and or Bluish Eyes
As they age your dog will develop a natural condition referred to as nuclear or lenticular sclerosis. It will appear as a bluish haze that looks to be transparent in the pupils.
However, watch this very closely.
If it is a white and opaque coloring, it may be cataracts which are much more severe.
Smaller breeds of dogs as well as Dalmatians and Great Danes are subject to going blind as they age as a result of the cataracts.
Dental Health and Bad Breath
This is probably the most common issue in older dogs. They will develop gum disease, tarter on their teeth, and bad breath.
Your dog’s teeth will really start to show signs of problems after the age of three, so a regular dental program is critical in helping to prevent it as they become older.
Gingivitis is the number one cause of bad breath in dogs, but it could also be a sign of an underlying condition such as kidney disease or diabetes mellitus.
This is also a natural occurrence, as your pet will not hear as well as they age, or may actually go deaf.
However, you should still check daily for ear problems such as infections, any type of a growth, or any foreign objects that may be in your pet’s ears.
Ear mites are still a huge enemy of your dog, and by far and away the best preventive remedy you can give your older dog is garlic supplements.
Older dogs will learn to adapt to a lowered hearing level, but you will need to adapt to this challenges as well.
Loss of Mobility and Arthritis
Perhaps the number one challenge for you aging dog, especially larger breeds. Older dogs will be most affected in their back legs and back spines.
There are several very good medications and joint remedies, but the best will always contain chondroitin and glucosamine.
Your pet will not be able to jump up on things as easily, walk up stairs, or may have difficulty even getting up or down.
As your pet ages, it will become very important to keep them on a daily exercise routine to help keep their joints functioning as best they can.
However, if they become increasingly worse, have your veterinarian check your pet for hypothyroidism.
This could be the underlying cause and it is very easy to treat.
This is an issue with all breeds and both sexes, but females will have different challenges than males.
With spayed females as they age, they may start to leak small amounts of urine while they sleep.
This is very easy to treat with estrogen.
Male, non-neutered dogs, especially once they pass the age of eight years, are subject to prostrate enlargements.
This can cause problems with both urination as well as defecation. Ensuring your dog drinks all the water it wants can help to control this.
Neutered males may have some issues, but they will be a lot less severe.
This is another age issue that you should watch very carefully, as it can be written off to easily, and could actually be caused by an underlying medical condition.
As your pet ages, food will flow much more slowly through their digestive tracts.
As a result, cause your dog to become constipated. Dogs that become very inactive will also develop this condition.
Compounding the situation will be joint problems or arthritis where it is becoming painful for them to go.
They cannot squat. Watch them and help them if needed, and then supplement them. With this condition it will be necessary to get them to move around more, as well as drinking more water.
Fiber may also have to be used to keep your pet regular.
There are also several other issues to contend with as your dog ages, such as heart problems, liver problems, and several stomach problems.
Older dogs will need more supplements.
There are several supplements that are made specifically for older dogs, but make sure that they include Vitamin A, B1, B12, and E; as well as the minerals potassium, selenium, and zinc.
If may be very painful for you to see your dog age and not be able to do things they once could.
However, you can be there with them in every step of their journey and knowing what to expect and watch for will make it much easier for both you and your best friend.