Just like you, as your dog ages, so do their personality, physical appearance and medical needs. Most changes are gradual and just the usual side effects that come along with growing older. But some can be a sign of a bigger issue. Since our dogs can’t tell us what they’re feeling, knowing what’s normal and what’s not is important in keeping your dog happy, healthy and comfortable.
Here are some of the more common changes to be on the lookout for.
- Your once quiet dog becomes more vocal. This could be a sign of pain or discomfort. It could also be a sign of cognitive dysfunction like confusion, separation anxiety or fear.
- Your dog doesn’t seem to be as alert. He/she doesn’t come as quickly or is slow to respond or react. This could be a sign of hearing loss. Sometimes it may seem as thought they’re becoming aggressive, but more likely, they’re reacting to being caught off guard, startled or scared because they didn’t hear someone approaching.
- Does your friendly, social dog seem to be spending more time alone? Do they seem distant, aloof or disinterested? Do you get less tail wags and seem less excited to see you when you come home? Senior dogs often prefer a quiet, calm place, away from the excitement and noise.
- Dogs can get cataracts and glaucoma, too. But a more common condition, called sclerosis, is where the eye looks cloudy, hazy or discolored. The condition doesn’t always significantly affect their eyesight. Any signs of vision loss should be checked by a vet to make sure it’s not a more serious condition.
- Suddenly your dog is having accidents in the home or getting up in the middle of the night to go to go to the bathroom. These could be signs of bladder control problems, mobility issues or just the need to urinate more frequently. It could also be a sign of a more serious medical problem and should be checked to rule out any diseases.
- Your dog might be eating less because they simply have less of an appetite as they age. While a lower appetite is normal as a dog ages, it’s important to rule out possible medical problems like dental issues and tooth pain. You also want to make sure they’re getting the nourishment they need. A change in diet may be in order, for more information you may want to learn more here. In some cases, as dogs get older they can develop an intolerance to certain grains and fibres which may appear in their food. Using natural dog food and dog chews can be more suited to your pooch as they get older. Talk to your vet or a reputable pet store for advice on what to feed your aging dog. If your dog stops eating or suddenly has no interest in eating that could be a sign of a more serious issue.
Of course, you know your dog better than anyone. So, if you notice any sudden changes, and if those changes are causing you to worry or be concerned, it’s probably time for a vet check.