Diseases That Are Common in Older Dogs

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Common Health Problems in Senior Dogs

The time that we get to spend with our dogs is valuable. The frolicking puppy you brought home from the shelter just a few short years ago matures into a mellow senior in what seems like the blink of an eye. Fortunately, as veterinary medicine has improved, so has our ability to identify and manage some of the most common health conditions associated with aging in dogs.

Here are 5 senior dog diseases you should be aware of.

When is my Dog a 'Senior'?

Although the common wisdom tells us a dog’s age times 7 equals their equivalent age in human years, the truth is dogs age at different rates depending on their size. Giant breeds like Great Danes may have a life expectancy of less than 10 years, while an eight pound Chihuahua may live past 18. A more specific rule of thumb is that a dog can be considered a senior during the last quarter (25%) of his expected life span.

1. Osteoarthritis

Joint disease goes hand-in-hand with aging, as the cartilage that protects joint surfaces wears down with time. Although this process cannot be reversed, dog parents have plenty of tools at their disposal to reduce the impact of aging on joints and arthritis in dogs.

First, make sure your pet is at a healthy weight. Overweight dogs carry significantly heavier loads on their joints. This has an effect on dogs of all breeds, but is most pronounced in large breed dogs who may already have a genetic disposition to conditions such as hip dysplasia. Second, make sure your dog receives regular examinations to catch the early signs of joint disease. Familiarize yourself with the signs of joint disease, too — reluctance to climb stairs, stiffness especially in the morning, and limping, to name a few. Last but not least, ask your veterinarian about therapeutic dog food. Some dog foods are formulated specifically to improve mobility and joint health.

For the complete article on 5 Senior Dog Diseases You Need to Know, visit petMD.