Understanding the Common Health Issues of Senior Dogs

The risk of sickness increases as dogs age, just like it does for humans. As a dog ages, the body and organs become weaker, which increases the dog's susceptibility to illnesses and infectious diseases.

Which diseases are most often seen in older dogs?

Cancer, osteoarthritis, oral cavity diseases, and urinary tract diseases are some of the most common diseases in older dogs.

Dog cancer can appear in a variety of ways because it can occur in many bodily parts. The cancer node may occasionally be on the internal organs or in tissue inside the body, or it may occasionally be visible and palpable someplace on the dog's body pretty deeply beneath the skin. Nodules with cancer can be either benign or malignant. However, it is always a good idea to have them examined and removed. Benign malignant nodules are perceived, for example, as a fat nodule (a lipoma), and as such have no relevance for the dog's health aside from the fact that they can become so enormous that they physically and cosmetically disturb the dog.

A cancerous nodule's malignant variation typically expands quickly and has the ability to spread to other organs via the cancerous nodule's cells migrating through the blood or lymphatic system. There are many indications that a dog has cancer, but some of them include significant weight loss, bleeding from the skin, coughing, blood in the stool, mucous membranes that are yellow in color, obvious nodules on the skin, and an enlarged abdomen.

When the body's moving joints are overworked and worn down over time, it results in osteoarthritis in dogs. Over time, the articular cartilage, which serves as a shock absorber, degrades, leaving the joint with less cartilage and inadequate shock absorption. Every joint has a joint capsule that surrounds it and creates synovial fluid, which lubricates the joint. As the cartilage degrades, this fluid will get thinner and thinner over time. When the dog moves, these changes in the joint will hurt. Osteoarthritis symptoms include stiffness in the body, depression, trouble getting up from a sitting position, and a lack of desire to exercise.

In older dogs, oral diseases such as tartar, gingivitis, and periodontitis are common. You will be able to significantly reduce the risk if the teeth are kept well throughout the dog's life in the form of teeth cleaning at the vet and brushing at home, but if the teeth are kept poorly, these diseases can be extremely painful. Tartar are coatings, also known as plaque, that have been present for an extended period of time. This is common in dogs and can be seen along the gum line. Bacteria and food residues cause the coating (plaque), which must be removed to avoid giving the dog tartar. Tartar forms when plaque is not removed and calcium salts from the dog's saliva accumulate.

Gingivitis can develop if the dog has a lot of plaque on its teeth, which has then hardened into tartar. Gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, an inflammation of the tissue that holds the teeth in place in the mouth. Bacteria penetrate the gums and deeper into the gum pockets, eventually attacking the jawbone. This condition can be extremely painful for the dog, resulting in tooth loss or having them extracted under anesthesia. Bad breath, red gums, the dog refusing to eat due to pain, drooling, plaques and discoloration on the teeth, and, in severe cases, loose teeth are all symptoms.

Unfortunately, illnesses of the urinary system, such as urine incontinence, bladder stones, and renal failure, are not uncommon in older dogs. The cause of urinary incontinence is a weakening and reduced function of the sphincter of the bladder and urethra, which makes it difficult for the dog to shut off the urine flow. As a result, the dog dribbles and pees uncontrollably. Long-term urinary tract infections, bladder stones, bladder cancer, and an enlarged prostate gland can all result in urine incontinence. The dripping and the dog spending a lot of time napping are symptoms of this.

Bladder stones are hard masses that develop in a dog's bladder or urinary tract. They can be made of a variety of materials, including struvite, calcium oxalate, and urate. They can cause symptoms such as frequent urination, straining to urinate, blood in the urine, and abdominal pain. Dogs may also show signs of a urinary tract infection, such as pain or discomfort while urinating. If the dog exhibits any of these symptoms, the vet can confirm the presence of bladder stones by performing a physical examination and may recommend additional testing, such as a urinalysis or x-ray.

Renal failure is defined as complete or partial failure of kidney function, in which the kidney is unable to concentrate urine and clean the blood of waste substances. Kidney failure can also occur as a result of a lack of oxygen to the kidneys caused by a failing heart, bleeding, or blood poisoning. Infections such as viral and bacterial infections, as well as consuming toxic substances to the kidneys, can all lead to renal failure.

Cognitive decline, also referred to as canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) or dog dementia, is a common issue in senior dogs. It can lead to behavioral changes and training difficulties. Disorientation, withdrawn or less responsiveness, sleeping more or having difficulty sleeping through the night, loss of house training, and changes in appetite or activity level are all symptoms. Medication and other therapies are available to help manage CCD and improve the dog's quality of life.

Heart disease in dogs, particularly in the elderly, is a common condition that can have serious consequences if not treated properly. Dogs can suffer from a variety of heart diseases, including coronary artery disease, dilated cardiomyopathy, and valvular disease. Coughing, difficulty breathing, lethargy, loss of appetite, and swelling in the abdomen or legs are all symptoms of heart disease in dogs. Medication, dietary changes, and, in severe cases, surgery may be used as treatment options.

The vet examines the dog during the annual health check, and keeping your dog healthy and fit with good food and exercise reduces the risk of diseases. However, it is always a good idea to pay special attention to the older dog's eating habits, weight, urine output, teeth, mood, and so on. 

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