The average lifespan of a dog is 10 to 13 years, but depending on the breed, the dog’s genetics, and how well you take care of its health, your pup might live to age 15 or even longer. But just like with humans, medical issues tend to increase with age, so there are a lot of things to aware of with each passing birthday. Although what is considered to be “senior” varies from one dog breed to the next, most dogs can be called seniors after they reach the age of seven.
Here are some of the most common health problems that affect senior dogs and natural approaches to address them as early as possible.
Dogs of all ages can develop cancer, but it is most common with older dogs. Regular screenings at annual vet checkups can catch cancer early and help you get treatment started early to improve your dog’s quality of life. Senior dogs often get growths and tumors on their bodies, but many of them are benign and don’t need to be removed with surgery unless they are painful to the dog.
Many dogs develop joint problems as they get older, especially osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease. This is most common in a dog’s knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders. The results of arthritis in dogs are abnormal bone growth, deteriorating cartilage, decreased range of motion, stiffness, and pain. We recommend Seagate Pet Joint Care for dogs that suffer from joint problems because it is made from responsibly sourced, freeze-dried shark cartilage and widely used by veterinarians and animal clinics.
Cataracts and other eye issues are common among senior dogs. The senses become less sharp with age, but sight loss usually happens slowly over time. In fact, any sudden loss of sight is an emergency and requires immediate medical attention. Blindness due to old age is not reversible in dogs, and you’ll find that your dog will eventually use other senses more to make up for the lack of sight.
Dogs often start to lose their hearing as they get older because of deteriorating nerves and cells. Hearing loss usually happens gradually in dogs and can be mistaken for dementia if you assume that your dog is confused when you give commands or praise. Signs of actual dementia are pacing, wandering, appearing lost, and changes in sleeping patterns. There are certain training techniques that you can try to cope with deafness in dogs, such as using hand signals in a similar way to American Sign Language.
Canine weight gain is a problem at all ages and stages of development, but senior dogs’ metabolism slows down and makes obesity more likely. If a senior dog is obese, the pup is also more likely to have arthritis, heart disease, and other medical problems. Talk to your vet about reducing food portions based on lower levels of activity, and try going on a few shorter walks per day rather than just one long one.
Older dogs may find it more difficult to hold their bladders and have more accidents inside the house. This can happen even to dogs who used to be able to hold their pee for 12 hours a day while their family members were at work. This is a natural part of aging, but a vet can help you rule out the possibility of any kind of kidney or bladder disease.
Interested to learn more about natural health for dogs? Check out these other dog-related articles on the Seagate blog: