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Your furry friend has been a constant companion. You’ve grown accustomed to him and expect him to always be there.
Then, he begins to change. His activity slows and as the seniors in your life eventually do, he begins to look older. Finally, his breathing becomes laboured and stops.
Ageing is part and parcel of life, and pet lovers the world over must face the sad fact that their furry family members will leave them way too soon. Sadly, many of them don’t recognize the signs of their ageing furkid until it is too late.
Signs that Your Dog Is Ageing
Cataracts Start to Develop,
To begin with, dogs do not have all-seeing eyes-they perceive uniform colours and are nearsighted. An ageing dog may have its sight further compromised by cataracts which you may not notice right away. They seldom affect the quality of life of an otherwise healthy senior dog. Your pet may have them if it cannot find its toys or has trouble locating the food in its bowl.
Doggie breath is not uncommon, and meticulous dental care usually keeps it at bay. However, if your pet has overwhelming bad breath that develops suddenly, it could mark the onset of disease, infection or tooth decay.
Difficulty moving around.
This may not be obvious if your furball is sedentary by nature. If your pet has sudden trouble with the stairs or jumping into a car, alarm bells should sound. Dogs slow down as they age, just as we do. They may experience the onset of illnesses and diseases. Aggressive slowing of mobility may signal arthritis. You may have to adjust your pet to a new exercise routine. Swimming is gentler on the limbs and many dogs enjoy it.
Lumps, bumps and discolouration
Lumps and bumps beneath the skin may become commonplace. Owners may also discover discoloured blemishes on their pets’ skins. Anything untoward should be screened by a veterinarian.
Slow metabolism accompanies age. Ageing, less active dogs gain weight for this reason. Taking your pet on regular jogs will help it to maintain a good weight.
However, they could lose weight as well, a sign of reduced muscle mass. Consult your vet if your pet loses more than 10 per cent of his muscle mass.
Your pet may have difficulty easing itself. If it seems to forget its potty training or starts to urinate indiscriminately,, it could have a urinary tract infection. Medications can keep this problem at bay
- Phobia of known people or objects.
Your senior pet may suddenly evade your attempts to hug or pat it, preferring to hide in seclusion. It may suddenly become afraid to go for its daily walks, and of people. Such fear is a sign of canine ageing.
- Changes in the sleeping-waking cycle
Do you find Fido more restless than before, and sleeping when he’s supposed to be awake? Changes in a canine’s sleep cycle mirror ours. We tend to sleep in the day and become more active at night as we grow older
- Increased barking and vocalization.
If you find yourself saying ‘no speak’ more often than you used to, it means that your furkid isn’t a kid but a ‘grandpa’ of sorts. Older pets tend to bark and vocalize more than younger ones. Perhaps they love sharing stories like grandpa.
- Repetitive or obsessive conduct.
An older pet loves to do the same thing over again, and well, again. You may find it becoming particular about returning to the same spot to sleep or focusing on a favourite object.
- Forgetting commands and cues that she once knew.
Has Fido forgotten how to sit or lay down? Just as ours do, a pet’s memories fade. It may forget some if not all, the commands that you taught it to respond to.
- House soiling.
Yes, Fido may find it difficult to control his bowels. If it starts to ease itself all over the home, do consider that it is growing older.
- Increased anxiety., confusion and disorientation
Your elderly pet may have more anxiety about you leaving the home or going out. Anxious behaviours often characterize an elderly pet. It may also become confused and not know where it is at times.
- Marked change in activity level
Finally, your pet may simply lose interest in playing fetch or catch. It may also find playing with younger dogs tiring, preferring instead to chill out beside you in front of the television.
How to help your pet navigate ageing
Ageing is not a straightforward process for us humans, so we can expect that it’s the same for our furkids. Thankfully, they have no conception of what growing old means, and many of them are as sharp as they were when they were puppies.
That said, they still need our help to cope with growing older. So, how is a hassled pet owner to help their furkids?
Inability to thermoregulate
Elderly pets are much like elderly people- they too, find it difficult to thermoregulate and thus metabolise food. This, of course, explains their propensity for weight giant. They also find it difficult to keep themselves warm.
Their owners can step in the help. Warm blankets will be extremely useful, as would exercise and a sensible diet.
Keep track of your pet's illnesses
Pets have the same aches and pains we do as they grow older. They experienced the symptoms of arthritis and heart disease. Keep track of your pet's symptoms so that you can nip potential problems in the bud. Watch for signs of discomfort. Your pet may use its bum to scoot on the floor, a sign that it has irritable bowels. It may also refuse to eat.
Play Mind Games
Keeping the brain active prevents the slowing of your pet’s cognitive functions.
Put your pet’s favourite treats around the house and get your senior pet to find them. Alternatively, get a family member to hide and get your pet to find him.
Don’t neglect your pet’s dental care
Like everything else, the enamel around your pet’s teeth weakens with age. Brush its teeth at least once daily to avoid the onset of periodontal disease and other dental problems. Ageing dogs are prone to gum disease and cracked teeth.
Make your home senior pet friendly
You must remember puppy-proofing your home when you first bought your little furball. It’s now time to make adjustments to it again as it moves through its twilight years. Swap your pet’s soft bed for more resilient orthopaedic bedding. It’s also wise to place rugs over slippery surfaces.
Laura Mueller Taking Care of Your Senior Dog https://www.thesprucepets.com/aging-pet-care-awareness-3384785
The Kennel Clubhttps://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/health-and-dog-care/health/health-and-care/a-z-of-health-and-care-issues/senior-dogs/
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.