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5 Common Senior Dog Diseases To Look Out For

by Louise W. Rice

Dogs are affected by old age just like humans. As the dog ages, you may notice changes in their behavior and that it suffers from certain common problems that occur when a dog’s vital organs and bodily functions begin to work more slowly. It is not always easy to distinguish between normal aging and disease.

It is common for dogs to become a little slower and more tired with age, as it is part of the journey. The dog is not as active as before and this is completely normal. However, sometimes it is a matter of certain diseases that appear during the latter part of life and the dog may begin to experience some of these common age-related diseases.

Here you can read more about them and how they are treated. These conditions can be challenging but they are treatable as well.

1. Cushing’s Disease

Cushing’s disease is relatively uncommon and mostly occurs in middle-aged and senior dogs. In Cushing’s disease, also called Cushing’s syndrome, the production of cortisol increases, usually as a result of a tumor. If the tumor is located in the adrenal glands, it causes primary Cushing’s, and if it is located in the pituitary gland, it is called secondary Cushing’s, which is more common.

There is both medical and surgical treatment for this disease. In addition, as there is enhanced oxidative stress and cardiovascular anomalies in Cushing’s in dogs, antioxidants are highly recommended as a remedy to alleviate the symptoms of this disease and boost the immune system.

For this reason, the natural treatment regimen advised for Cushing’s disease is lignans for dogs. Lignans are the perfect source of antioxidants, found in many plant materials such as flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, vegetables, and berries. A high level of lignans in the body could help reduce cortisol and other hormone levels and promote healthy reproduction.

2. Cataracts and Visual Impairment

A disease that is fairly common among all dog breeds regardless of size is cataracts. Just like humans, dogs get cataracts when the cells that make up the lens over the eye build up over time and eventually make the lens opaque. The eyes get a bluish tone and vision deteriorates.

Dogs with diabetes develop cataracts more often, as it is linked to an excess of glucose in the blood. Diabetes itself is more common in dogs that are overweight, so by making sure the dog has a reasonable body weight, you can prevent related conditions such as cataracts. Regular veterinary visits can help detect this condition early. Cataract surgery in the early stages of the disease has shown to be successful.

3. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

As your dog gets older, you may notice behavioral changes. Some of them have to do with aging, but it can also be a matter of canine cognitive dysfunction, which manifests itself in dogs in ways similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. The dog’s blood vessels deteriorate as it ages, reducing the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. It affects the dog’s behavior and can cause confusion, impaired recognition, forgetfulness, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and intimidation.

The condition can be very difficult for the dog, but it can be alleviated. Exercise the dog with short regular walks and reintroduce the commands you taught it when it was a puppy. Reduce stress by maintaining daily routines and consider giving your dog food rich in antioxidants that can protect cells from harmful free radicals.

An older dog does not have to suffer from these common ailments unnecessarily. Make an appointment with your vet if you notice the symptoms so that you give your dog the best possible care.

4. Hypothyroidism

In hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland produces too little of the hormones thyroxine, T4, and thyronine, T3. The disease mainly affects middle-aged and older dogs and it can be difficult to distinguish these symptoms from normal signs of aging.

The most common reason is that the dog’s own immune system attacks the thyroid cells. The thyroid gland is damaged and the cells eventually die, leading to a decrease in the thyroid hormone thyroxine. The symptoms can be vague and not always so easy to recognize.

Common signs of the illness are increasing fatigue, decreased strength, and weight gain. There is currently no cure for hypothyroidism, but by giving the dog synthetically produced thyroid hormones in tablet form 1-2 times a day, most dogs improve and return to their normal selves. The medication is lifelong, and a veterinarian must conduct regular examinations of the dog.

If an older dog has hypothyroidism, it gains weight even though it continues to eat the same as before. The dog may show resistance to exercise, along with weakness and anxiety. The dog coat is also affected and becomes dull and dry with hair loss, and you can see thickened oily and sometimes itchy skin.

5. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a common cause of lameness in older dogs and is caused by a gradual breakdown of the cartilage that covers their joints. Due to the slow regeneration of cells in aging dogs, there is no cure for this condition, but the pain can be relieved and the course of the disease slowed down by treatment.

Joint pain and difficulty moving are sometimes seen only as a sign that the dog is getting older. If you notice that your dog seems to have particular difficulty moving, you should contact your veterinarian, who can alleviate the dog’s suffering. Overweight dogs are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis due to the extra pressure on the joints. A good preventative measure, therefore, is to keep your dog at its ideal weight.

Also make sure that the feed contains certain nutrients that contribute to joint health, such as anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids or tailor-made combinations of nutrients with clinical effects (for example curcumin, collagen, and polyphenols from green tea), glucosamine, and chondroitin.

In addition to osteoarthritis, some dogs may have back problems such as IVDD, or Degenerative myelopathy. In addition to a visit to the vet, a dog back brace will alleviate back pain.

Final Thoughts

If you are aware of all these diseases in senior dogs that we listed above, it will be much easier for you to detect them. An animal’s body functions almost in the same way as an elderly person. And as with humans, in older days, it will need a little extra care. This, in addition to proper attention, is something that must be maintained.

Unfortunately, you might feel like time goes by way too fast and there may be more visits paid to the vet. But the senior dog has as much love to give as it had in its younger days. With the right adaptation and care, you will hopefully have a continued wonderful time spent together.

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