When you take that cute little puppy into your home, it is easy to forget that sooner or later this animal will get old.
Ageing is a fact of life, for all living creatures. How quickly a dog will age though, does depend on certain factors.
Like people, there will be genetic predispositions toward certain health problems. Different breeds of dog have different life expectancies also.
On the whole, though there are some obvious signs that your dog is getting old.
Older dogs often have poor hearing
That once alert dog, who heard the slightest rattle of the garden gate, may hear little these days. In fact, a burglar may be able to enter, raid and leave your home without your dog hearing a sound.
Weight gain can also be associated with age in dogs
Some of this will depend upon how well you have cared for your dog. Giving the animal too many treats to show your love is not really an act of kindness. Make sure that your dog has a healthy diet and reduce the amount of food accordingly as the animal becomes less active. An older dog generally has less nutritional needs.
Creaking joints affect a dog in much the same way as a person
The animal's mobility may decrease and it may be in pain. If a dog shows signs of pain be assured that the animal is suffering. Dogs tend to hide their pain well. No dog should ever be allowed to suffer so consult your veterinarian in order to receive advice and treatment regarding pain management.
Poor eyesight affects dogs in much the same way as people
An older dog may develop cataracts. Many eye problems are treatable but can be expensive. Some breeds of dogs are more susceptible to have eyesight problems than others.
Dental problems can cause older dogs problems
Tooth pain and infections may mean that the animal finds it difficult to eat properly. If your dog has bad breath this could be a sign of dental problems. A good dental routine, started when the animal is young, will help. Tooth scaling is possible at the veterinary surgery but will be costly. You also have to remember that the dog will need to be anaesthetised which may be problematic for an older dog.
Heart problems and even heart failure can occur in dogs
If the animal has led a healthy life style with a sensible diet and plenty of exercise heart heath issues may be minimised.
Your dog's hair or fur will probably turn a little grey and the texture will change. You may notice that the dog's coat is less sleek and shiny and is more wiry and sparse.
As we see our pets everyday it is often a person who visits rarely who will notice the changes in your dog.
You may find that you have to walk more slowly and less distance with your pet, raise the height of the dog's feeding bowl because it has back problems or even help the animal to its feet at times. As long as the dog is not in pain and has some quality of life this part of ageing is simply nature running its course.
Regular health assessments by a veterinarian will help nip health issues in the bud; the vet will also be able to offer advice on keeping your pet well and happy in older and old age.
But every living thing has its time and must die hopefully later rather than sooner.
Enjoy your pet throughout his or her life. Every stage of life has something to offer.