As dogs get older, they change. Like their human counterparts, they exhibit changes in their physical and mental health that might require more care. If you’ve never owned a dog before, you might be wondering what you can expect as your dog gets older. Here are six signs your dog is aging.
1. Changes in Behavior
As dogs age, their behavior changes. Dogs who had lots of energy to greet you at the door may be a bit slower to react. They may not chase squirrels anymore, or be as vigilant as they once were. The more a dog ages, the more significant their cognitive decline. Unfortunately, symptoms of salinity can’t be fixed or cured. While there are some supplements available from companies that claim they can reduce symptoms of aging, there isn’t much that can be done to reverse symptoms of age in your dog. The best way to combat changes in behavior and physical medical issues is to provide a healthy diet and age-appropriate exercise.
2. Tooth and Gum Issues
Tooth decay and gum issues are very common in aging dogs. Thankfully, tooth issues can be diagnosed by a veterinarian. Tooth problems can cause pain as your dog eats. By getting tooth issues under control you greatly improve your dog’s quality of life.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), “The immune system weakens as dogs age and they are not able to fight off infections as easily as they did when they were younger. Along with a good dental cleaning, your vet may decide to do blood work to rule out infection.”
3. Joint Discomfort
When dogs age, their bones and joints age too. As a matter of instinct, dogs hide their pain. Therefore, the symptoms of joint discomfort in your dog may not be obvious. However, as the discomfort grows, their behavior will begin to change. For instance, they may become less mobile after a long walk or early in the morning after a long sleep.
Here are some other symptoms of joint pain in dogs:
- Slowing down on walks
- Licking sore joints
- Hesitating before jumping or going up/down stairs
We suggest changing your dog’s exercise routine to make them more comfortable. Long, energetic walks are probably going to make your dog sore. So, keep walks short and break them up throughout the day. A good bed also helps. There are canine orthopedic beds that do a great job of distributing your dog’s weight so that there isn’t too much pressure on one limb or joint.
4. Loss of Senses (Like Hearing)
Senses of smell, sight, and hearing all tend to get worse as your dog is aging. For example, dogs struggling with hearing loss may become easily startled and may bark. At worst, your dog may become aggressive out of the inability to hear. The same goes for dogs with sight issues. Dogs with reduced sight might see shapes and shadows, and that can put them on edge when someone approaches them.
To help your dog, make sure water bowls, beds and toys are always in the same place for your dog to easily find. Don’t make too many sudden movements so your dog doesn’t become upset. Lastly, if you are having lots of people over, consider crating or isolating your pet so you don’t cause them any extra stress.
5. Increased Accidents
When dogs get older, they have a hard time controlling their bladder. While many won’t lose all of their control, there may be more accidents than usual. Older dogs may stress out about piddling indoors because they know they aren’t supposed to. It’s important that you don’t punish an old dog for this. They can’t help themselves and it will cause them serious distress to have expectations for something they can’t control. Instead, focus on letting your dog out more often. If you work and can’t be home much, consider getting a dog walker or neighbor to let them out. Another idea is to come home on your lunch break if you work close enough!
6. Weight Changes
Aging dogs don’t move much. So, they have a tendency to put on more weight. However, this can be detrimental for their overall comfort. Weight puts more pressure on already tender joints. Just make sure to adjust their food intake accordingly!
Some dogs grow thinner as they age, too. Make sure you get with your vet to make sure there aren’t any underlying health issues impacting their weight. Then, make the adjustments you need to keep your dog happy and healthy.
Remember, dogs need lots of love throughout their lives, but as they age, they will change. It’s inevitable. Make sure you’re prepared to take care of your aging dog when the time comes.