As your dog gets older, you may notice they’ve lost their spunk and they’re starting to slow down. They also may exhibit behavioral changes and changes in their mood. Some of these changes can be a sign that there can be something wrong with your dog’s health, and even if your senior dog appears to be fine, an annual trip to the veterinarian to determine if they are in fact healthy, or if they suffer from one of the many common ailments in older dogs is a good idea.

Senior Yellow Lab

Proper Nutrition Can Keep Them Healthy

As your dog ages, their dietary needs change and their eating habits are likely to become different. Seniors have a lower caloric requirement because they’re not as active as they used to be. Choosing a high-quality dog food is important for keeping them as healthy as possible, preferably finding food with fatty acids and natural ingredients. Look for foods that contain antioxidants, are high in vitamins E and C, and contain digestive enzymes. Look for quality, balanced, and natural products, like the ones offered by The Missing Link.

Arthritis

If your dog isn’t as active as they used to be and seems to be in pain, they may have arthritis. Some symptoms to look out for include weight gain, favoring a limb, difficulty climbing stairs and standing, increased irritability, appearing to have stiff or sore joints, and sleeping more. These symptoms might appear to be normal signs of aging, but if they last more than two weeks your dog should be taken to see the veterinarian for a proper examination. Some things you can do to relieve their pain includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, diets that promote increased joint mobility, and proper exercise to help them maintain their weight.

Cancer

There are many types of cancers that affect canines including lymphoma, melanoma, mast cell tumors, mammary cancer, and prostate cancer. It’s helpful to pay close attention to your pet and seek medical advice if you suspect something might be wrong to help catch cancer early. Some symptoms include abnormal swelling that continues to get bigger, weight loss, decreased appetite, difficulty eating, discharge from body openings, loss of stamina, stiffness, and difficulty breathing. Not all types of cancers can be prevented, but some can by increasing their intake of vitamins A, C, and E as well as antioxidants, and making sure the dog gets proper nutrition.

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence can happen to males and females and can include a few small leaks to releasing a large amount of urine. This can be very frustrating and heartbreaking for pet owners to deal with. Some of the most common causes of urinary incontinence include hormonal imbalances, urinary tract infections, urinary stones, prostate disorders, spinal injuries, and a weak bladder sphincter. A veterinarian can help figure out the cause of the incontinence and determine what type of medication would work best for treating the problem. You can use waterproof pads, pile clean blankets and towels where your dog likes to sleep or use doggie diapers to prevent messes.

It can be heartbreaking to watch a beloved pet become plagued with an assortment of health problems as they age. It’s helpful to encourage exercise as much as possible, give them supplements that promote joint health and healthy cartilage, and to make sure they’re comfortable. Your dog will always be a member of the family no matter how old they are, seniors just may require a little extra attention and care than younger dogs. Always take your dog to the vet if you ever suspect there may be something wrong with their health. A veterinarian will be able to diagnose the problem and offer suggestions for treatment. 

 

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Filed under: Caring For Your Senior Dog

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