What Diseases Affect Older Dogs?
The inexorable passage of time, to a greater or lesser degree, always brings harm to organisms. For older dogs, to have a lower life expectancy than ours, the old age and disease become evident very quickly.
Elderly dogs have a certain predisposition to suffer from some diseases that, in younger animals, are not common. Next, we will explain what are these typical pathologies of dogs in geriatric age.
At what age do dogs become old?
It is important that each tutor knows the age groups from which their dogs can be considered to be of geriatric age. Due to the enormous diversity of dog breeds, the classification is very varied. In general, we can classify this species according to its weight, as follows:
- Up to 10 kilos: may be considered elderly from 11 years old.
- Weight between 10 and 30 kilos: this group reaches old age around 9 years old.
- Pets over 30 kilos: Large dogs are considered geriatric at a young age, around only 7 years old.
These numbers are indicative; therefore, it will be up to the veterinarian to say at what age the animal will be considered geriatric. Undoubtedly, factors intrinsic to the dog – such as genetic diseases – can change these general limits. Now that this matter has been cleared up, it’s time to list the most common diseases in this group.
The heart is the body’s clock, setting the rhythm of our lives with its beats. Over the years, he tirelessly works through millions of contractions. So it doesn’t seem strange to think that this may be one of the most affected organs in older dogs.
Likewise, the arteries and veins through which the bloodstream circulates also suffer damage over the years. The walls lose their elasticity and deposits of fatty substances are produced, among many other events that age the circulatory system.
All of this means that the appearance of this type of disease is more frequent in geriatric patients. Among the most frequent cardiovascular diseases associated with age, we find the following:
- Disorders of the valves, especially the mitral valve. The familiar heart murmur.
- Thromboembolism, that is, clots that clog veins or arteries.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy – the heart muscle becomes weak. Most common in large dogs.
Osteoarticular Disorders in Elderly Dogs
The locomotor system is the machine that moves the whole body and also suffers the effects of the passage of time. For this reason, diseases in this range are more common in older dogs, especially large breed dogs. This is because a larger size produces greater bone wear.
Among the most common processes, we can mention the following:
- Arthrosis. Without doubt the most common disorder. It affects a large number of older dogs.
- Increased risk of fractures or cracks.
- Disc hernias or protrusions. They can affect young dogs, but are more common in older dogs.
- Tooth loss and dental disease.
The nervous system is one of the most affected in elderly animals, as neurons have a high energy demand. This makes them more susceptible to degeneration because of oxidative damage, a result of this accelerated metabolism.
The most common neurological diseases in older dogs are as follows:
- Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. It consists of a kind of canine Alzheimer’s.
- Geriatric vestibular syndrome.
- Epilepsy. It also affects young dogs, but is more common in geriatric dogs.
Organic homeostasis lives in a very delicate balance in which multiple factors are involved. Advanced age predisposes them to suffer certain pathological processes that are rare in young animals.
Hormone-related illnesses tend to appear slowly and insidiously. We are talking about pathologies like the following:
- Renal insufficiency. It affects a large number of older dogs.
In addition, there are a number of pathologies that can complicate the last years of some elderly dogs. For example, aging-typical depletion of defenses makes them more vulnerable to contracting infectious diseases.
Likewise, problems with the sense organs are also frequent. Eye disorders, such as cataracts or glaucoma, as well as hearing loss, often occur in older dogs.
So, as you’ve seen, there are many and varied diseases that can affect older dogs. Therefore, it is essential to reinforce veterinary check-ups in geriatric-age dogs. Thus, these diseases can be detected early and treated properly.