Dogs age at different rates depending on their breed, size, and overall health. However, as a general guidance, most dogs are considered old when they reach around 7 to 12 years of age. With ageing, their bodies undergo various changes, making them more susceptible to certain health conditions so it’s important to understand how to care for your older pets. Here are some common old age diseases in dogs.
Arthritis is a very common ailment in older dogs. The commonest type, osteoarthritis, is a prevalent and often debilitating condition resulting from wear and tear of their joints over the years. The gradual degeneration of joint cartilage leads to inflammation, pain, and reduced mobility. The most common form of arthritis in dogs is age-related, and it typically affects senior dogs.
Signs of arthritis in dogs may include limping, difficulty rising from rest, reluctance to engage in physical activities, and a noticeable decrease in overall energy levels. Additionally, you might see a change in your dog’s gait, joint swelling, and a decrease in muscle mass around the affected areas. These signs can vary in severity and can also develop gradually over time, making early detection important for effective management.
When it comes to treating arthritis in dogs, there are several options available. Your furry friend can be prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate pain and inflammation. Additionally, joint supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin can help to support joint health. There is also a novel treatment, administered by monthly injection, that has shown excellent results in a high proportion of dogs with this condition.
Weight management is also an important way to reduce the stress on arthritic joints, and a well-balanced diet can help maintain overall health. Additionally, physical therapy and tailored exercise regimens can improve your dog’s joint mobility and muscle strength. Overall, the goal of arthritis treatment is to enhance your dog’s comfort, mobility, and quality of life, ensuring they can continue to enjoy their golden years to the fullest.
“Dogs can experience a range of health issues and become more susceptible to certain conditions as they grow older.”
Dementia in dogs, often referred to as canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), is a cognitive decline condition that is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Its exact cause is not entirely understood, but CCD is characterised by progressive neurological changes that impact a dog’s memory, behaviour, and overall cognitive function.
The symptoms of dementia in older dogs can vary but often include disorientation, confusion, and memory loss. You may notice your furry friend getting lost in familiar surroundings, experiencing changes in sleep patterns, or showing altered behaviour including increased anxiety, aggression, or restlessness. Accidents in the house can also become more frequent, and dogs may seem less responsive to their surroundings.
The causes of dementia in dogs are thought to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors, potentially including brain changes like the accumulation of abnormal proteins. Just like in people, we do not have a cure and treatment options are very limited. Dietary supplements containing antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, or medications can be prescribed to improve cognitive function. Behavioural interventions, such as providing a structured routine and engaging in mentally stimulating activities, can also help ease the distressing effects of dementia. Additionally, an early diagnosis and a tailored care plan can significantly enhance the quality of life for dogs living with cognitive dysfunction.
Idiopathic vestibular disease, often referred to as “old dog vestibular syndrome” or “canine idiopathic vestibular disease,” is a neurological condition that affects dogs, primarily in their older years. It is characterised by a sudden and severe disruption in the dog’s balance and coordination, which can lead to disorientation and vertigo. The term “idiopathic” means that the exact cause of this condition is unknown.
The main symptoms of idiopathic vestibular disease in dogs are sudden loss of balance, head tilting, nystagmus (involuntary eye movement), and difficulty walking or standing. Affected dogs may appear extremely disoriented and may struggle to coordinate their movements. While these symptoms can be alarming, it’s important to remember that idiopathic vestibular disease is not typically considered to be a life-threatening condition.
The cause of idiopathic vestibular disease remains uncertain, but it is thought to be related to age, inner ear inflammation, or vascular changes. Fortunately, most dogs with idiopathic vestibular disease tend to recover spontaneously within a few days to a couple of weeks. While there is no specific treatment for the condition itself, supportive care of your four-legged friend is crucial. Sometimes medications can be prescribed to manage symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Additionally, it’s important to maintain a safe and comfortable environment to prevent injury during the recovery period. With time and care, most dogs affected by idiopathic vestibular disease can regain their balance and return to a relatively normal life.
While these are only a few diseases that can affect ageing dogs, there are other conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease. If you’re concerned that your dog may be suffering with one of these conditions, arrange a vet consultation with us today, or get in touch for more advice.
Overall, it’s important to remember that old age diseases in dogs are a part of the natural aging process, but with proper care and attention, you can ensure that your senior companion enjoys a happy and comfortable life. Regular health check-ups, a balanced diet, and a loving environment are essential in addressing these health challenges.
Remember that early detection and intervention are key to managing and improving your dog’s quality of life, which the team at Kensington Veterinary Care always strive to help with. Book an appointment online, or contact us today!
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