As with all living things on the planet, the dog ages and undergoes physical and behavioral changes with the passage of time. Depending on its breed, size and age, the dog knows these signs of aging which are normal unfortunately. Thus, a large animal ages and lives less than a small dog. Signs of this aging appear and are even considered to be senility indicators in some cases.
The dog considered senior
The dog is considered a senior based on its size, breed and life expectancy. Thus, a small dog becomes old around 9 years old. A medium-sized dog is a senior from 8 years old and a large dog is old from 6 years old.
The aging process in dogs
From these ages and depending on the size, the animal may begin to show signs of aging of a physical, psychological and / or physiological nature. The hair becomes graying, the senses begin to be altered, it has difficulty moving, but it can also be incontinent, anxious or even present signs of senility. This aging does not happen all at once and occurs over several years, and it is necessary to recognize certain signs in order to adapt a lifestyle to it that corresponds to its possibilities and to better support it in its end of life. While it is easy to see that a dog is aging, it is less easy to recognize if it is senile. Here are some elements to determine it.
The senility of the old dog
A dog having overtaken 8 to 9 years old depending on its size and breed may exhibit unusual behavior. He may have cognitive dysfunction. In this case, this dog can be reached of senility like a human having the Alzheimer’s disease for example who is a degenerative disease. In animals, it’s the same, but we often put these signs on the back of old age and not of this disease whose signs are similar and which is called canine dementia.
To note that : senility in dogs does not affect his life expectancy, but only the quality of his daily life and yours as a consequence. The more the senile dementia is diagnosed early and the easier you can be in your life together. Here are several signs that should alert you very quickly.
When a dog is senile, there is a decrease in interactions with its congeners and the humans around it. Previously, you might notice that your dog loved to go for walks. In this case, he comes without showing the slightest manifestation of joy and even seems to not recognize the places or the other dogs that you usually come across.
Waking up in the middle of the night
Waking up in the middle of the night is one of the first symptoms of a dog with senility. He sleeps more and more during the day and less at night to walk around the house without knowing what he wants. It is nocturnal wanderings which are symptoms showing cognitive dysfunction.
Your dog has never been anxious and yet you find that many everyday things stress him out, such as:
- He can’t stand the loneliness anymore
- You can no longer leave him alone, because he cries or starts barking
- He is afraid of a new walking route
- He trembles at the slightest change
This change in attitude is akin to irrational fear which is still one of the signs of canine senility.
The dog no longer concentrates
Since childhood, your dog has been very well educated and obeys your orders. For some time now, you realize that he can no longer concentrate if you send him an order or a request. It seems lost.
Your dog has always been kind and never exhibited any aggressive behavior. For some time, he becomes aggressive with you or your entourage that he knows well. In this case, it is subject to crisis of confusion and this behavior is known to enter into that of the senility of the old dog who is afraid of the unknown, so he becomes aggressive.
The dog is disoriented
If your dog seems disoriented or even completely lost in a place that is familiar to him, it is because he has a problem related to senility. He also may not find his way, and even no longer knowing how to get into the garden.
Depression related to senility
When a dog becomes senile, it can become depressive. In this case, nothing interests him anymore. It is listless, isolates himself and no longer wants to play or ask you for a caress. This cognitive dysfunction is often linked to the development of senility.
Your dog swallows anything that looks like the puppy does. It may or may not be edible food. Conversely, he does not eat much and loses his appetite. These disorders, while not symptoms of an underlying disease, are symptoms of canine dementia.
How to improve the life of a senile dog
If the vet has made a diagnosis and your dog is senile, you can help him improve your daily life. The veterinarian will prescribe suitable drugs to his pathology. At the same time, you need to change his food which must have Fatty acids like melatonin and omega-3s. Take him out at least once a week, even if you have a garden he spends time in. Secure his immediate environment so that he is less afraid. You must also avoid making him run, avoid noises that could frighten him. Don’t yell at him too loudly because he doesn’t understand what is happening to him. Keep stroking it and give him treats if he likes them.
All of these little things will make life easier for your partner as they age faster than you do. At the same time, you will improve its comfort and his life expectancy. In some cases, food supplements are desirable as well as a basic treatment in homeopathy or herbal medicine.