A dog's body experiences a number of changes as it grows older. Senior dogs 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. Glaucoma is also quite painful. Typically, a cataract is white in color. Certain breeds of dogs are more susceptible to cataracts through genetic makeup. Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Huskies, Miniature Schnauzers, Golden and Labrador Retrievers and terriers are a few examples.
What to watch for:
- Tripping and running into furniture or doorways
- Dilated pupils
- 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.
To determine whether or not your dog has a loss of hearing, here are some things to be on the lookout for:
- Slow or inconsistent responses to your commands
- Your dog seems to be oblivious to noises
In addition, some dogs may start barking frantically if their hearing loss is sudden.
What you can do to help your dog cope:
- Don't let your dog roam around freely in open areas because he won't be able to hear approaching cars, people, or other dogs.
- Be careful waking your dog. Dogs with hearing loss sleep very soundly, and if you disturb him he may react fearfully, or even snap at you because he's startled.
- Start incorporating hand signals into commands like sit, stay, or come. You may need to consult a professional trainer to help you teach your old dog these new signals.
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.