We as dog owners want to do everything possible to keep our precious companions safe, happy and healthy for as long as possible. One of the tragic things about being a dog owner is knowing that we will almost definitely outlive them. This means that we have a great responsibility to care for them throughout their lives so that they can maintain their health and enjoyment for as long as possible, as this can greatly extend their lives.
Once dogs reach a certain age, they often need a lot more care than they did when they were younger. Part of the natural aging process is that many bodily systems begin to become compromised. As dog owners, we must do everything that we can to help their transition into becoming a senior as smooth and comfortable as possible.
Today, we’re gonna be talking about the ways in which we can make certain adjustments in an effort to prevent potential illnesses that commonly affect senior dogs. But, first, let’s discuss the more common ailments that affect dogs once they reach senior status.
Why Senior Dogs Require Preventative Medicine
As humans, we know that our bodies are more prone to issues the older we get. Once we surpass our forties, we’re more susceptible to illnesses, disorders and pain. This happens with dogs as well. Dogs lives are shorter than ours, and so they may begin to experience a host of ailments once they pass the age of nine.
However, there are ways in which we can prolong their health so that their senior years won’t be marked with pain and illnesses. The key is using preventative treatments early on, and slowly adjusting their lifestyle as they get older.
Common Conditions That Can Affect Senior Dogs
These are the signs every dog owner should try to look out for.
- Arthritis: An inflammatory condition that commonly affects humans as they get older, and it’s often caused by wear and tear of the joints. With each passing year, our joints begin to wear down more and more, simply due to overuse. Therefore, it’s no surprise that this condition affects dogs as well as humans.
- Depression: Can occur in senior dogs due to the fact that their energy has decreased, and so they cannot play in the way that they once did. Dogs who have clinical depression may sleep more, lose interest in toys and activities and experience a loss of appetite.
- can occur as a result of foods that irritate their digestive tract, such as foods that they’re allergic or intolerant to, or foods that are known to cause inflammation such as sugar and gluten.
- Cancer: Of course, as dogs get older, their risk for cancer increases. There are many different forms of cancer that can affect dogs, with some being more preventable than others.
- Kidney Disorders: Dogs’ kidneys work very hard to process food, as well as stress. If a dog’s diet has not been ideal, their kidneys may have to work overtime to process the food that they consume. For instance, foods that are high in salt may be quite taxing on the kidneys, and once they get older, their kidneys are compromised due to all of this excess work.
- Skin Conditions: Many senior dogs develop various skin ailments due to various factors. They may have itchy patches of skin, or they may experience extreme hair loss. This may have to do with the fact that aging dogs are more prone to chronic inflammation within the body, and once inflammation is severe enough, it can affect the skin as well.
- Bladder Stones: These become increasingly common in dogs over the age of ten, especially when it comes to certain breeds. This largely has to do with diet, but it can also be at least partially caused by severe stress.
Ways to Prevent Potential Illnesses in Senior Dogs
Now, let’s get into the various methods in which dog owners can lessen the risk of certain illnesses in senior dogs.
Tip #1: Minimize Stress
One key factor in disease prevention is minimizing as much stress as possible. Dogs are quite sensitive to stress in that their bodies struggle to handle the high cortisol levels compared to humans. Therefore, severe stress can contribute to a variety of ailments later in life.
To minimize stress, we must strive to pay attention to how our dogs react to various things throughout the day. Maybe your dog doesn’t like when strangers come to visit. Or, maybe your dog is afraid of thunderstorms. As dog owners, we must do what we can to calm our dogs in moments of stress to keep cortisol production to a minimum.
Tip #2: Concentrate on Improving Their Diet
Next, it’s time to seriously consider your pet’s diet. We know that pet food can be expensive, and many of us tend to gravitate toward the cheapest options. However, a large number of common illnesses affecting dogs can be attributed to what they’re eating.
Basically, there are certain ingredients that do not benefit your dog, and in fact put them at risk of developing illnesses in the future. These ingredients include gluten, sugar, salt and certain flavoring ingredients. More and more vets are recommending grain-free and raw diets to dogs because of the fact that they are easier on a dog’s digestive system, and closer to what they would eat in the wild.
Today, there are many dog nutritionists out there who can help you create a new diet and food plan based on your dog’s specific needs and breed. This can give you the confidence that the food you are giving your furry friend is benefiting their health and preventing a host of ailments from occurring later in life.
Tip #3: Add Supplements
You may wish to begin giving your dog canine-specific supplements that can improve their overall health while preventing certain issues that commonly affect your dog’s specific breed. Lots of supplements can be added to your dog’s food without them noticing. We suggest talking to your vet in order to determine whether or not certain supplements will benefit them.
Tip #4: Take Them to the Vet Regularly
As your dog gets older, it’s very important that you take them to the vet at least once a year. By taking them to the vet regularly, you may be able to catch the early developmental stages of certain ailments that can get worse over time, and treat them accordingly.
Tip #5: Give Them CBD
More studies are showing that CBD has the potential to benefit dogs in a number of ways. This has to do with the fact that dogs, like humans, possess an endocannabinoid system, and that this system needs cannabinoids such as CBD to regulate various bodily processes. Studies have found that CBD may be able to aid in the treatment of common conditions like depression, arthritis and IBD. It’s important that you find a CBD product specially formulated for dogs, and that you speak to your vet before administering it.
Monitor Them Closely
Lastly, it’s important that you pay special attention to your dog as they get older. Often, they will clearly demonstrate the signs that something is wrong. For instance, if your dog seems to be playing less frequently, this may be a sign that something is going on within their bodies. By monitoring them carefully, you might be able to catch something before it becomes a serious illness.
These Tips Just May Help Prevent Certain Common Illnesses from Occurring
As a dog owner, you probably want to do everything that you can to ensure that your dog lives for as long as possible, and that they remain happy, healthy, safe and pain-free even as they approach senior age. Use the tips above in order to properly care for them once they get older.