Signs of Aging in Dogs
Your dog is exhibiting behaviors that are a little “off” from his normal routine. Sometimes these behaviors are a sign of a health issue, other times they are simply normal signs of aging. If your dog is getting up in years and showing signs of slowing down, the following information can help you discern whether you need to rush to the vet, or if it’s a sign of nature taking its course.
As dogs age, they need less in the way of calories. If your dog’s appetite has decreased slightly, this could be a sign of advanced age. However, if your dog stops eating completely and even treats and table scraps don’t entice him to chow down, you should consider scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian to see if something else is going on.
Reduced energy levels are also a sign of aging. Your dog will slow down as he ages. Shorter walks and shorter play times at the dog park are normal, as is letting the neighbor cat walk by the front window of your home unmolested. However, if your dog is lethargic and reluctant to move from his favorite pillow, this is another instance when you might want to call the vet.
Other Health Concerns
As your dog ages, his coat will become less bright and fluffy, and his fur will thin out some. He may also turn gray or white around his muzzle. His hearing may not be as sharp, nor his sense of smell. Just like humans, dogs will also lose muscle mass as they age, especially in the hindquarters. Your dog may have a difficult time climbing up on your favorite chair with you, or take a little longer to get out of bed in the morning. These are all natural signs of aging for dogs. As a dog parent, you know better than anyone when your dog is sick. If something feels “not quite right,” it probably isn’t, and you should visit your vet to get a professional opinion.
How to Assist Your Furry Friend as He Ages
Routine Vet Visits
It is important to obtain routine vet care for your dog, no matter his age. Not only does this help you keep up your dog’s routine medications, it can also help your vet identify any issues right away. Like humans, as a dog ages, there are many medical issues that can come into play. The sooner these are identified, the easier it is to keep your dog in good health.
Diet and Exercise
One way you can reduce the signs of aging in your dog is to ensure that he is getting the proper nutrition. A diet comprised of a high-quality dog food is helpful; a grain-free food that is high in protein is best. Some experts believe that dogs that eat a grain-free diet have healthier skin and coat, as well as healthier bones and joints. It may take some trial and error with different foods to find one that suits your dog’s individual nutritional needs as he ages. You should also provide your dog with the right amount and type of exercise that fits his needs and abilities.