Aging in Dogs – A Complete Overview

Dr Wim Van Kerkhoven – copyright

Factors influencing Life Expectancy
Apart from breed, several factors influence life expectancy:

Diet – The oldest dog on record was Bluey, an Australian Cattle Dog, who died at 29 in 1939. In the 2000s, at least two dogs were still living at 27 years old, but one was fed a purely vegetarian diet (border collie, died at 27) and one fed primarily on kangaroo and emu meat (bull terrier cross, died at 27).
Spaying and neutering – Neutering reduces or eliminates the risk of some causes of early death, for example pyometra in females, and testicular cancer in males, as well as indirect causes of early death such as accident and euthanasia (intact dogs roam and tend to be more aggressive), but there might increase the risk of death from other conditions (neutering in cited paper only showed an increased the risk for prostate cancer but has not been repeated in subsequent papers] in males, and neutered males might have a higher rate for urinary tract cancers such as transitional cell carcinoma and prostatic adenocarcinoma.

What things should you expect as your dog ages?

Slowing down

Reasons:

Arthritis, particularly large breeds. Arthritis can occur in any joint, most commonly the legs, neck and back (spine)
Hypothyroidism
Graying around the face, muzzle starting at middle age (5-6 years)
Reduced hearing (deafness).
Cloudy or “bluish” eyes – The medical term for this is lenticular sclerosis. Vision does not appear to be affected. This is NOT the same as cataracts. Cataracts are white and opaque and vision can be affected.
Muscle atrophy – Mild loss of muscle mass, especially the hind legs. Some muscle atrophy, notably on the head and the belly muscles, can signify diseases such as masticatory myositis and Cushing’s disease
Decreased activity, more sleeping, and reduced energy (in part due to reduced lung function)
Weight gain (calorie needs can be 30–40% lower in older dogs)
Weakening of immune system leading to infections
Skin changes (thickening or darkening of skin, dryness leading to reduced elasticity, loss or whitening of hair)
Change in feet and nails (thicker and more brittle nails makes trimming harder)
Loss of teeth
Gastrointestinal upset (stomach lining, diseases of the pancreas, constipation)
Urinary issues (incontinence in both genders, and prostatitis/straining to urinate in males)
Mammary cysts and tumors in females
Senility
Heart murmurs
Diabetes

Senility ? Don’t forget, senior dogs get Alzheimers too !
Some dog owners may report that their dog wake up in the middle of the night and start howling. Others may report their very well house-trained dog gets up and has accidents around the house or wakes up to drink and then shortly after urinates on the carpet. Just as it may happen in humans, dogs ted to approach their golden years by losing parts of their cognitive function. Some may lose some, some may lose more. Many refer to these cases affectionately as ‘doggy Alzheimer’s’ while medically, this condition is abbreviated as CDS standing for Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.
Key CDS symptoms

When you can’t teach new tricks anymore to an old dog… Senior dogs may forget some simple commands they have known all their lives.
The blank stare … Dogs affected by CDS may stare for no apparent reason a wall or any other object, some may even chase imaginary objects or bark while nothing is there.
The big maze … Some dogs will get up in the middle of the night and wander around bumping into furniture as they look for their way out. Some may get easily distressed and panic as they try to find the way back to bed. Some dogs will howl or get stuck in a corner without finding their way out.
Night owls … sometimes the dog may have difficulty recognizing the difference between night and day and forget all about the routines. These are the dogs that will wake up at night and start having accidents around the house or start drinking or eating in the middle of the night. Afterward, they will sleep during the day and have no more accidents.
Inside and outside debate …some dogs may even forget why they are sent outside.
Who are you ? … Some dogs may even forget who their owner is and may growl or act unusually timid. At other times they may have moments of seeming to remember.

What can you do?

Take you dog out more often
Pet your dog and show affection more often
Do not move furniture around to prevent confusion
Keep up with a daily routine and stick with it
Have your dog wear doggie diapers during the night
Place baby gates to seclude dangerous areas such as stairs
Supervise your pet when outdoors

Elderly Dog Feeding Considerations
Older dogs are undergoing many different physiological changes. To keep up with these changes, it is recommended that a diet that is suited for older dogs be fed. Remember to keep up with the exercise and keep the weight under control.

Foods to Avoid
The most common geriatric canine complaint is arthritis; red meat and dairy products can aggravate the painful inflammation associated with this disorder, so eliminate these foods from your dog’s diet if he suffers from arthritis.
Many older dogs will need a well-balanced diet that is lower in calories, but still has adequate protein and fat, and is higher in fiber. For some older dogs, we can continue to feed their regular food, but in a smaller quantity. Specially formulated senior diets are lower in calories and help to create a feeling of fullness. Lower fat usually translates to lower calories; so many senior diets have lower fat levels than adult maintenance or growth diets. Older dogs are more prone to develop constipation, so senior diets are often higher in fiber at around 3 to 5%. If your dog has significantly decreased kidney function, then a diet that is lower in phosphorus will lower the workload for the kidneys.

Supplements for older dogs – useful?
Aging dogs have special nutritional needs, and some of those can be supplied in the form of supplements. Feeding a daily supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitin, may help support joints. If your dog is not eating a complete balanced diet, then a vitamin/mineral supplement is recommended to prevent any deficiencies. Some owners like to feed extra antioxidants. As mentioned earlier, a prebiotic product may help to reduce the incidence of constipation.
In general, supplements are more than useful for older dogs. Older dogs have a decreased absorption of nutrients in the intestines and need to be supplemented but make sure that those nutrients can be well absorbed because the intestinal cells don’t absorb at the same level as in a 3 year old dog. Viyo Elite is a low calorie product and is complete in formulation. Viyo Elite guarantees due to his liquid formulation a good and fast absorption of all nutrients. It is a low calorie product containing all essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids, prebiotics as MOS,FOS and inulin and supports the joint health through glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.

Dr Wim Van Kerkhoven – copyright

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2 Responses to Aging in Dogs – A Complete Overview

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