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Keeping Your Senior Dog’s Organs Healthy

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A dog over the age of eight is already considered to be relatively old. In larger breeds, it can happen earlier than that. From this age on, the animal might begin to suffer from health imbalances. Just like humans, dogs also show different types of signs of aging. Some begin to hear and see worse, some become stiff in the joints and tired while some even turn gray around the nose.

Today, our pets can live a long time thanks to proper care and good nutrition. With simple means, you can make life easier for your aging companion. Changing food, making it easier to hop in the car or the sofa and supplements are just small tricks that increase the quality of your dog’s life. As they age, however, the risk of various diseases increases.

Let us look into which organs are likely to be affected as the dog grows older and what you can do to ease the symptoms.

A Dog’s Liver 

Unfortunately, different liver diseases in senior dogs are quite common. The liver can work for a long time before the dog shows any symptoms, even though large parts of it are injured or sick. Maintaining liver health is very important as it removes toxins from the dog’s body and performs other functions.

One or more of the following symptoms may be seen in liver disease: decreased appetite, weight loss, fatigue, increased thirst, urination, diarrhea, vomiting, black stools (due to blood in the stools), jaundice, fluid in the abdomen (ascites) and increased tendency to bleed. If the liver damage affects the CNS (central nervous system), it is called hepatic encephalopathy. 

There are various options for liver support for dogs available today to soothe the symptoms of liver dysfunction. In most cases, dietary changes and supplements are necessary and highly effective. Your vet might prescribe medicaments and recommend treatment depending on the concrete problem and on the individual dog.

You should remember that being disciplined and keeping up with the vet’s advice is an important component of success. Therefore, be sure to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations on medications, diet, and follow-up tests and exams.

Stiff Joints

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Just like with aging people, dogs can get osteoarthritis and stiff joints. Many people feel better from food that is adapted for stiff joints and can also benefit from special supplements with, for example, glucosamine in. The dog may have difficulty taking the long walks you previously were used to, running up and downstairs, jumping up in the car, or getting up quickly after rest. 

There is a lot you can do for your aging dog and with the help of, among other things, rehabilitation with a water walker, laser, and massage, the stiff dog can feel much more alert and fresh.

If your dog or cat is feeling more achy than usual, you can make an appointment with the vet for an examination, then you will find out if the animal is in pain and may need medicine.

Tooth Problems

After a long life, many dogs have problems with their teeth. The most common are problems with tooth loss and tartar. But unlike us humans, they cannot tell us what is wrong.

A common delusion is that dogs with toothache stop eating, retrieving, or gnawing on bones. But that’s not true, dogs react by hiding and tolerating their pain for as long as possible.

Signs that an older dog has problems with its teeth are foul-smelling breath and irritated or bleeding gums.

Brushing your dog’s teeth and regularly checking the dog’s mouth is the best way to prevent dental problems. Tartar and tooth loss, periodontitis, are most common while dogs rarely get cavities.

Tooth loss is difficult to fix other than by pulling out the teeth. Inflammation of the tooth roots is not easy to detect. Many dogs suffer in silence. You often do not understand that the dog has been in pain until you see how much better it feels after it has had its teeth extracted.

A Weak Heart

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One common health issue in older dogs is related to their heart. It is usually small dogs that suffer from valve disease and heart failure that causes fluid buildup in the lungs, leads to decreased strength, and makes it difficult to breathe. Large breeds can have problems with the heart muscle, which can happen suddenly. The dog then has reduced strength and difficulty breathing.

The prognosis is of course dependent on the heart disease in question and at what point the disease is detected. Some dogs are on cardiac medications for many years and feel completely fine. 

Hereditary heart defects cannot be prevented, but to avoid other heart problems, it is always good if the dog does not weigh too much. As his owner, you must keep it active with activities that are adapted to the dog’s age which it can handle.

A Bad Kidney 

The dog’s kidneys are crucial as they remove waste products from the blood and maintain normal fluid and mineral balance in the body. But if the kidneys cannot do their job, the result can be life-threatening for the dog, especially with senior dogs, most of whom suffer from chronic kidney disease.

Lack of appetite and nausea are the two main symptoms that indicate kidney disease.

As with arthritis, these pathologies have no real cure. However, they can be detected and controlled in older dogs too. Your veterinarian should provide proper medication to reduce the discomfort caused by kidney disease in dogs.

Additionally, the food that your dog eats is of great importance for the dog’s general health and well-being. If the dog is diagnosed with kidney disease, it might help to reduce the intake of protein, phosphorus, and salt. Lower phosphorus levels seem to be particularly important in slowing down kidney damage and alleviating clinical symptoms. Lower protein content can also help restore a normal acid-base balance.

Image source: Wade Austin Ellis from Unsplash

Closing Words

It is not uncommon for an older dog to become a little stiff and less playful, but there are a lot of things you as a dog owner can do to give your furry friend a comfortable and happy life in its final years.

You must keep your dog in a good shape as much as you possibly can. Be careful and make sure your dog does not become overweight. Stimulate your dog by going for lovely walks, doing certain exercises, and coming up with fun things that you can do together. Also, introduce a better dietary regimen and add health supplements.

With the right adaptation and care, you will hopefully have a continued wonderful time together.