Old age in dogs: how to take care of a senior dog
Many dogs accompany their owners for many years and reach a respectable age. Of course, even for our four-legged friends time does not pass without leaving a trace. With this article, we want to reveal to you what are the typical signs of ageing in dogs and how you can make it easier for your faithful friend to spend the years. We also tackle the delicate issue of when to say goodbye to your dog together.
- How long do dogs live?
- Old age in dogs: what are the symptoms?
- How can I intervene to combat the symptoms of old age in my dog?
- When the time comes to say goodbye to the old dog
- Conclusions on the topic
How long do dogs live?
There is no valid answer for everyone because the life expectancy of dogs depends primarily on the breeds. Typically, small dogs live longer than large dogs. Where a Chihuahua can reach 15 years of age, a Bulldogg or a Saint Bernard usually has a life expectancy of 7 to 10 years.
In addition to these hereditary factors, elements external to the animal-like the diet, the way in which they are raised and the general state of health also play a decisive role. This is why, in order to guarantee a long and happy life for your dog, it is important to properly inquire about these topics.
Old age in dogs: what are the symptoms?
Old age manifests itself in dogs not unlike what happens to people. It is not possible to predict in advance how severe the signs of the passing of the years will be for the individual dog: while some four-legged friends over the years show only a few ailments, for others the quality of life begins to suffer already relatively soon.
The following clinical symptoms are particularly common in older dogs:
-Specific external characteristics: the coat turns grey (especially in the head area) or becomes bristly and opaque, up to a thinning of the hairs (alopecia).
Loss of appetite accompanied by weight loss.
Joint and bone problems due to osteoporosis or osteoarthritis: these are symptoms that often lead the dog to move unwillingly or feel pain when getting up and lying down.
Reduction or loss of hearing, sight and smell.
Immunosuppression due to ageing: the immune system also weakens with age, which results in a greater onset, in older dogs, of diseases due to infections.
Increased urge to urinate (urination) due to bladder problems.
How can I intervene to combat the symptoms of old age in my dog?
A general condition of good health is the most important thing for your beloved paw friend. In fact, in addition to hereditary factors, the state of health is also decisive in guaranteeing high quality and duration of life. That is why it is important to pay attention to the health, lifestyle and nutrition of your dog from his early years.
Here are some strategies that you can put in place to counter the ageing process of your dog and offer him a “pleasant retirement life” as pleasant as possible:
1. Avoid overweight
Many studies have confirmed that overweight (obesity) favours the onset of related diseases such as diabetes mellitus. Joint problems are also often associated with being overweight.
A balanced diet and regular exercise are therefore crucial. Both can slow down the appearance of some serious symptoms of ageing or even prevent them.
Tips: We summarized the ideal nutrition for senior dogs in a dedicated article. Obviously, in our online shop, you will also find specific foods for older dogs.
2. Relieve pain
Many healthy dogs over the years show pain in making movements due to age-related osteoporosis. It is an untreatable pathology, the painful symptoms of which, however, can be alleviated by the veterinarian with the help of painkillers. After administration, it can often be observed that the animal’s motor capacity improves, at least for some time.
3. Periodic checks
Good prevention spares dogs a lot of suffering. That is why it is important that you have you're furry senior checked regularly by a vet. In this way, it is possible to promptly identify the pathologies typical of old age and treat them successfully.
4. Show understanding
It is not easy when your four-legged friend suffers from old age, after so many years spent together. It is important to show elderly dogs a lot of understanding. If possible, you should avoid involving him in strenuous activities and stressful situations, including, for example, the arrival of a new puppy.
When the time comes to say goodbye to the old dog
First of all, more important than the theme itself is the awareness that there can be no single answer to this question. Old age is not a disease, but a natural phase of life.
Many older dogs show signs of joint disease or have very few teeth to eat with. However, as long as the dog is able to handle this condition, nothing is needed. You can alleviate this effort by assisting it in the best way and, if necessary, by resorting to pharmacological support.
Sometimes, however, old age is so advanced that the dog suffers a lot. In this case, you should definitely consult a veterinarian. Often, in fact, in the last days of the dog’s life, the symptoms progress rapidly. In the interest of the animal, in such a difficult situation, it is important to be able to count on the objective advice of your trusted veterinarian.
Conclusions on the topic
The last years or months of our four-legged friends’ lives don’t have to be difficult. Old age can be very different from dog to dog and is sometimes a very mild condition. Also, as an owner, you can do a lot to make your furry’s life as pleasant as possible.
However, it is always difficult to say goodbye to your dog after a long and happy life together. To fully enjoy the time you can spend with your faithful friend and always remember the wonderful moments you shared. Fortunately, dogs are dedicated to this throughout their life.