Is Your Dog Elderly? Things To Know As Your Canine Ages

There are some signs that every pet owner should watch for when it comes to their aging canine. Older dogs are susceptible to serious conditions that younger dogs may not be, and these signs should be evaluated and treated by your vet. Larger dogs over 20 pounds age faster than smaller breeds, and a seven-year old dog that weighs more than 50-pounds is considered a senior, while a seven-year old small breed is considered an adult. Ask your vet to determine your dog's true age during routine appointments.

Some things to watch for as your dog gets older are:

Dental issues. As your dog gets older, he is at higher risk for periodontal disease and tooth loss. Around 85% of dogs over the age of six have gingivitis or periodontal disease; if left untreated, it can cause bad breath, painful gums, and even organ failure in extreme cases. The best way to prevent these hazards is to schedule regular oral exams with your vet.

Liver problems. Problems with liver function become more common as your dog ages; some signs of an issue include decreased appetite, weight loss, vomiting, or diarrhea. This can progress to liver failure and bleeding disorders if left untreated. Your vet will check liver function with urinalysis and bloodwork.

Cancers. Nearly half of dogs over the age of ten are diagnosed with some type of cancer, including skin, spleen, liver, and lymphoid cancers. Some symptoms that warrant a vet exam include skin masses, bleeding, irritations, vomiting, swollen lymph nodes, and diarrhea. Take your pet to the vet for bloodwork that will diagnose if your pet has cancer.

Kidney function. Older dogs are more inclined to have issues with kidney function, including kidney stones, infections, and even kidney failure, which can be fatal. Urinalysis and bloodwork will indicate if your dog has kidney insufficiencies.

Eye issues. Many dogs experience vision and eye issues after the age of eight, which may include glaucoma, cataracts, and dry, painful eyes. Some signs that your dog is having difficulty could include persistent rubbing of the eyes, and redness, swelling, or clouding of the eyes. Ocular exams can determine what is going on with your dog's eyes, and hopefully prevent the blindness or eye-loss that can occur if left untreated.

Make sure to take your dog to regular veterinary checkups to diagnose conditions related to aging early. This will increase your pet's prognosis if treatment becomes necessary. With veterinary care and a healthy lifestyle, your four-legged friend can live well into their geriatric years.