Did you know your dog becomes a senior once she turns 7 years old? Think about it. In human years, that’s nearly 50, which is right around the time the AARP card shows up in the mail.
Senior dogs need special care. They should be seen by a vet at least once a year, and twice a year once they hit 10 years old. They’re great at pretending their health is fine when they’ve actually got conditions that need attention.
So, is your senior dog hiding one of these 8 common issues?
1. Hearing Loss
Did you know a significant percentage of senior dogs will eventually suffer from some form of hearing loss? Your dog can’t tell you when she can’t hear you, but she will give you signs. If she stops answering her name or starts barking more than ever before, she might be losing her hearing. Here are other signs your dog is going deaf.
2. Cognitive Decline
Just like in humans, it’s entirely possible for dogs to lose cognitive function as they age. Signs to watch for include disorientation, frequently getting lost, aggressive behavior, or increased whining or barking, all of which could indicate your dog is more confused than she used to be. A healthy diet and plenty of exercise may help keep your dog’s mind sharp longer.
Osteoarthritis is incredibly common in dogs, and the number one reason senior dogs’ joints begin to hurt with age. If your dog has trouble getting up stairs, moving around for long periods of time, or even getting comfortable to sleep, she might have arthritis pain. Talk to your vet about your options for supplements or prescription medication.
4. Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure isn’t a death sentence. Your dog’s genetics have a lot to do with whether or not she develops CHF, but she’s much more likely to be affected as she ages. Heart conditions can usually be managed well with medication, and signs to watch for include coughing, lethargy, weakness, or bluish-colored gums.
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Nearly half of all dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. Obesity isn’t just dangerous for your dog’s long-term health, it can also make her golden years very uncomfortable. As your dog ages, her activity levels will decrease so it’s vitally important to make sure she’s still getting exercise. You should also switch her to dog food designed for seniors!
6. Gum Disease
Gum disease is a precursor for all kinds of preventable diseases in dogs. Not only can the condition cause your dog a lot of pain, it makes it far more likely she’ll have to have teeth removed at some point! It’s super important to brush your senior dog’s teeth every single day and to work with your vet on a regular professional cleaning schedule.
There are few things more unsettling than feeling an unexplained growth on your dog. The good news is, benign growths are very common in senior dogs and are usually made of fatty tissue or fluid. Any growth should be evaluated by a veterinarian and biopsied if necessary, but know that some dogs are simply predisposed to developing growths as they age.
8. Kidney Disease
All kidneys age at different rates, but some level of decreased kidney function is common in senior dogs. While kidney failure can’t be “cured,” it can be managed well through treatment. This is why having your dog’s urine tested for kidney function at least once a year as she ages is critical.