Celebrating your senior pet on #SeniorCitizensDay

August 21 is National Senior Citizens Day and in honor of senior dogs everywhere, here is a quick guide of things to look out for in your senior dog.

Veterinary medicine, much like human medicine, has made some incredible advancements over the years, meaning dogs are living longer than ever before. While this gives us more time to enjoy their company, it also opens them up to developing more diseases as they reach their senior years.

How old is a senior dog?
Older dogs are considered to be senior when they are between 5 and 10 years of age, but this can vary between breeds and also depends on the size of the dog. Your vet is the best person to assist you in estimating the age of your dog if you are unsure.

Things to watch out for as your dog ages
You may suspect your dog is approaching their senior years if you notice a change in their eating, sleeping and drinking habits. Older dogs can also develop some lumps and bumps on their body and while many will not require removal after testing has determined they are benign, it is best that any abnormalities are examined by your veterinarian.

Arthritis in senior dogs
Senior dogs are more prone to developing arthritis, particularly if they are overweight or were quite athletic in their younger years. Arthritis occurs when there is an inflammation in the joints and there are three main types:

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • septic arthritis
  • osteoarthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by a malfunctioning immune system that attacks healthy cells. Septic arthritis is the result of an infection in the joint and osteoarthritis is caused by the wearing away of cartilage between the joins and can be very painful. You may notice your arthritic dog has jerky movements or seems ‘creaky’.

Products such as Sasha’s Blend and PAW Osteosupport Joint Care can help relieve some of the symptoms of arthritis by reducing inflammation in the joints.

Dental disease in senior dogs
Dental disease is another problem that often arises in older dogs. Early-stage periodontal disease or gingivitis can be indicated by bad breath, small amounts of dark brown deposits on the back of the teeth and you may also notice a thin line of red affecting the gum line just above the teeth.

Moderate periodontal disease only tends to develop when the dog’s dental health has been neglected for several years. Root detachment and deterioration of the bone structure will have started and can make it difficult for the dog to chew.

Dogs with advanced periodontal disease will have foul-smelling breath and experience quite a bit of pain. They will also begin to lose teeth and may need to have some teeth removed by a veterinarian.

Dental disease can be avoided by developing good brushing habits when your dog is young and encouraging your dog to chew on bones or specialized chewing toys like the Kong dental stick to keep their teeth nice and clean.

Regular visits to your veterinarian and close monitoring of their health will help to ensure your senior dog lives out their twilight years in comfort.

More tips on caring for a senior dog can be found here.
Information on dental care for dogs is here.
Advice on dealing with arthritis in pets is located here.