Many dogs accompany their owner for a large part of their lives and reach a ripe old age. Of course age leaves its mark on our furry friends too. The following article will reveal what the signs of senility in dogs are and how you can make ageing easier for them. Furthermore, we will tackle the difficult question of when it is time to say goodbye.
Old age in dogs
© Ben R / stock.adobe.com
Age leaves its mark on our four-legged friends too. However, whether a dog suffers from senility or not can vary greatly.
How old do dogs become?
There isn't a standard answer to this, because the age of dogs depends on the breed. In general, smaller dogs have a higher life expectancy than large dog breeds. Whilst a Chihuahua can live up to 15 years, Bulldogs or St. Bernards usually reach seven to ten years of age.
Along with these hereditary factors, external influences like diet, housing and the dog's general health play an important role. You should always be well informed on these subjects so that your dog can live a long and happy life.
Senility in dogs: What are the symptoms?
Senility in dogs is similar to that of us pet owners. However, there is no way of predicting in advance how severely dogs are affected. Whilst some dogs hardly show any signs well into old age, the quality of life of other dogs suffers relatively early.
The following clinical symptoms are observed particularly frequently in ageing dogs:
- Physical features: Greying of the fur (especially on the head) or unkempt and lacklustre fur to increased hair loss.
- Loss of appetite along with weight loss.
- Joint and bone problems due to osteoporosis or arthrosis: This often leads to a dog no longer enjoying exercise or suffering from pain when it stands up and lies down.
- Decrease or loss of hearing, sight and smell.
- Age-related immunosuppression: The immune system also weakens with age, so old dogs can increasingly fall ill from infections.
- Increased urination due to a weakened bladder.
How can I tackle senility in dogs?
A good general state of health is the most important thing for your beloved canine. Along with hereditary factors, this is the priority for a good duration and quality of life. Hence, you should pay attention to your pet's health, diet and housing conditions from the beginning.
With the following measures, you can counteract senility in dogs and give your canines a pleasant final chapter in life:
1. Avoid obesity
Many studies have confirmed that obesity encourages the onset of underlying diseases such as diabetes mellitus. Joint complaints are also common in connection with obesity.
A balanced diet and regular exercise are therefore crucial. Both can slow the onset of severe symptoms of senility or prevent them entirely.
There is of course special food for senior dogs available in the zooplus online store.
2. Alleviate pain
Many healthy dogs show signs of pain when moving in old age due to age-related osteoporosis. Since there is no cure for osteoporosis, a vet can help alleviate the pain with the help of painkillers. It can often even be observed after administration that movement patterns improve again, at least in the short term.
3. Regular check-ups
Good healthcare provision has spared many dogs from suffering. Hence, get ageing dogs checked by a vet regularly. In this way, typical age-related diseases can be recognised at an early stage and successfully treated.
4. Show compassion
It's not easy when a beloved pet is suffering from senility after many years together. However, it's important that you show senior dogs plenty of understanding. Strenuous activities and stressful situations should be avoided if possible. These include, for instance, adopting a new puppy.
When is it time to say goodbye to my old dog?
First things first: As important as this question is, there is no generic answer. Ageing isn't a disease, but a natural part of life.
Many dogs show signs of joint diseases in old age or only have very few teeth left to eat with. However, treatment isn't necessary as long as the dog can cope with this. As well, suffering can be alleviated through care and medical support too if required.
Nevertheless, senility is sometimes so advanced that the dog suffers greatly. In this case, you should definitely consult with a vet, because symptoms can often progress rapidly in the final days of a dog's life. In such a difficult situation, a vet's objective advice is important for a dog's wellbeing.
Conclusion on senility in dogs
The last few years or months of our dogs' life don't have to be difficult. Senility in dogs can vary greatly and is often only very mild. Moreover, you as a dog owner can do something to make life as pleasant as possible for your senior furry friend.
Nevertheless, it's always difficult to have to say goodbye at the end of a dog's long, wonderful life. Enjoy the time together with your dog and always enjoy the good moments. Thankfully our dogs provide plenty of these throughout their lives.