Getting older is a part of life – and as we age, it’s important to keep a close eye on physical and emotional changes that could indicate the onset of disease. This is even more true for pets who cannot speak for themselves. We need to watch them carefully for signs of aging and illness. Early intervention makes for better outcomes!
Here are the top ten signs of aging to watch for in your dog:
1/ Gaining weight – Maintaining a healthy weight is just as important for pets as it is for people. As pets age, they will tend to gain weight in their bellies, just like people. Weight gain can indicate thyroid issues that may be slowing their metabolism, or that their diet needs to be adjusted for their age and activity level. Consult your veterinarian.
2/ Slowing down – If your dog needs encouragement to do things they used to enjoy, like going for a walk or a run, it may indicate an underlying health problem like thyroid issues or arthritis. Get a check up to be certain.
3/ Difficulty getting up – If you notice that your pet has trouble getting up after lying down or sitting for a long time, especially on hard surfaces like the floor or pavement, it could indicate they are having joint pain from arthritis or another condition. There are many treatments that can help, so talk to your vet.
4/ Hearing problems – If your pet is not responding to your call to come or to other commands, it could indicate some form of hearing loss. Of course, it could be just stubbornness. Your vet can help determine if your pet is having hearing problems or some other issue with their ears.
5/ Cloudy eyes – While most dogs will develop some cloudiness as they age, it can also be the first sign of cataracts forming in the eyes. Time for a vet visit!
6/ Needing more frequent potty breaks – Most adults can sympathize with the urge to go more often. As your pup ages, he or she will need more bathroom breaks. Make sure your pet gets more frequent potty breaks, or remember to leave pee pads out when leaving the house to reduce accidents.
7/ Onset of or increasing number of “bathroom accidents” – Continued urinary incontinence can be an indicator of an underlying health issue or urinary tract infection. Best to get checked by the vet.
8/ Lumps – While lumps can be a perfectly normal side effect of aging, they can also be a sign of an underlying cancer, ticks or other parasites. Depending on coat length, lumps may or not be visible to the naked eye, so it’s best to regularly examine your pet with your hands. Be sure to let your vet know about anything unusual you may find. If the sore is crusted or weeping, get your pet checked.
9/ Changes in coat or skin – A dry, dull coat; hair loss; itchy, flaky skin; or hot spots can be a sign of many types of disease. If you notice your dog’s coat is changing, get a check up.
10/ Bad breath – Dental disease can begin in pets as young as three years of age. Bad breath is usually the first indicator of dental problems. Regular brushing and dental cleanings can help offset gum and periodontal disease that can put your pet’s health at risk.