A dog's body experiences a number of changes as it grows older. They move a little slower, sleep a little longer and they're more susceptible to certain diseases like arthritis and diabetes. What's more, their senses aren't quite as sharp as they used to be.
In this article, we'll talk about the many changes your senior dog may be experiencing right now and what you can do to help him through the aging process.
It's not uncommon for aging dogs to develop nuclear sclerosis, a condition where the eye lens appears cloudy and bluish. It may cause difficulty for your dog to focus close-up on objects.
Cataracts and glaucoma, on the other hand, are much more serious and could lead to blindness. Typically, a cataract is white in color. Certain breeds of dogs are more susceptible to cataracts through genetic make-up. Cocker Spaniel, Poodle, Husky, Miniature Schnauzer, Golden and Labrador Retrievers and terriers are a few examples.
What to watch for:
Tripping and running into furniture or doorways
Eyes that seem to be 'glowing'
Cloudy eye surface
Red, painful looking eyes
Any sudden changes in your dog's vision or in the appearance of your dog's eyes should be reported to your veterinarian immediately.
Slow or inconsistent in responding to your commands
Seems to be oblivious to noises
May start barking frantically if hearing loss is sudden
To determine whether or not your dog has a loss of hearing, here are some things to be on the lookout for:
What you can do to help your dog cope:
Don't let your dog roam around freely in open areas - he won't be able to hear approaching cars, people or other dogs.
Be careful waking up your dog. Dogs with hearing loss sleep very soundly, and if you disturb him he may snap at you because he's startled.
Start incorporating hand signals into commands like sit, stay or come.
Taste and smell
Older dogs often experience a reduced sense of smell and taste. As a result, their food becomes less appealing, which could lead to unhealthy weight loss.
You can help your dog enjoy his food again by simply warming up his food to enhance the aroma. If your dog eats a lot of dry food, try mixing in some wet food to make it more appetizing.