Just like humans, dogs are at risk for developing certain conditions and diseases as they age. As a dog owner, you may not always know your pet is suffering simply by looking at him. Many dogs are very good at hiding pain, so it’s important to know what signs to look for as your pet ages so you can help him live comfortably for as long as possible.
Five senior dog diseases you should know about:
The most common form of arthritis in pets, osteoarthritis occurs as your dog ages. Although it can affect any joint in the body, it often affects the hips the most. Osteoarthritis is very painful and can really limit your pet’s ability to do simple things. As your pet ages, look for signs that he’s suffering such as and inability to get up easily or a refusal to go on walks. If he’s normally quick to chase a ball or your beloved Fluffy the Cat, but all of a sudden doesn’t, it could be an indication that your senior pet is in pain.
2. Chronic Kidney Disease
Urinary tract issues are a common ailment in pets of all kinds. Urinary tract infections and the like can easily be treated with antibiotics and all is well. However, kidney disease in the form of renal failure is different: it cannot be cured. Renal failure can be chronic and is a result of years of infections that damage the kidneys. Signs of renal failure include increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy.
Cataracts are a cloudy “film” that forms over your dog’s eyes that limit his vision. They can affect one or both eyes and may lead to complete blindness. Age plays a big role in cataract development, but a genetic predisposition, eye injury or illness can also lead to the formation of cataracts. Look for signs of vision difficulty or behavioral changes and have the condition diagnosed by a vet for proper treatment.
While any animal of any age can suffer from obesity, older dogs are at higher risk for becoming overweight because they are typically less active. Unfortunately, being overweight leads to a bevy of health issues that can be quite taxing on a senior pet’s body. Keeping your pet active and feeding a healthy diet designed for his every stage of life is the best way to keep your pet from becoming obese.
5. Gum Disease
If you’ve ever smelled the breath of an old dog, you know exactly what gum disease is. Not only does it smell bad, it can be quite painful for the animal. Rotten teeth, swollen, painful gums – it’s a recipe for disaster. In addition to the obvious discomfort for the animal, bad oral hygiene can lead to other health issues throughout the body including heart disease. To prevent gum disease in your senior pet, be sure to have his teeth cleaned regularly and get in the habit of brushing his teeth at least once a week.
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