Nurturing Your Aging Dog: A Comprehensive Guide for Loving Owners

Medical review by K9 Healthcare Council of America (K9HCA). Intended for educational purposes only. Always seek medical advice from your veterinarian.

Embracing the Golden Years: What to Expect with an Aging Dog

As your furry companion ages, you may notice subtle changes in their appearance and behavior. Their once-vibrant face may exhibit a touch of gray, and their once-energetic gait might slow down. They might require a bit more time and attention to navigate everyday tasks. But you wouldn’t have it any other way because you cherish every aspect of your old dog’s existence & want to make sure his senior years are as comfortable as possible.

Being the proud parent of an older dog is not easy, but it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. We love our aging dogs, and we’ll do anything to make their lives better–no matter the circumstance.

Despite these changes, the love and connection you share with your senior dog can make this phase of their life incredibly rewarding.

Cherishing Every Moment: Signs of Aging in Dogs

After years of wagging tails and shared memories, you might return home one day to find your canine friend not waiting eagerly at the door. Dogs age more rapidly than humans, and the toll of the years can manifest in various ways. Your once-active dog may struggle to walk as far, play as long, or face challenges with stairs and other activities.

As your dog ages, they may experience conditions like arthritis, hip dysplasia, or cognitive dysfunction, affecting their mobility and mental well-being. It’s essential to be attentive to signs of discomfort, irritability, anxiety, or changes in behavior, especially during nighttime, as these may indicate underlying health issues.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to have an old dog in your life, you know first-hand these venerable old friends require special care; especially if they’re diagnosed with conditions like epilepsy, diabetes, memory-loss from dementia, osteoarthritis or cancer.

Aging dog symptoms
You guide, protect and care for your puppy as they grow up–that loving attention shouldn’t stop as your dog matures and begins to show signs of old age.

Signs of Aging Dog

Watching your once bright, energetic dog begin to show signs of aging can be heartbreaking. As your dog ages, he may not be able to walk as far or play as long. He may tire more easily and have more difficulty getting up or be reluctant to go up and down stairs or have difficulty getting into and out of the car as he once did.

Your dog may develop arthritis or other degenerative diseases like hip dysplasia that cause him to slow down. Pain from inflamed joints may make it hard to find a comfortable position to sleep in. In their later years, an older dog can become more irritable, anxious or have behavioral aggression and have declining mental capacity.

Some older dogs’ symptoms seem to be worse at night. They sleep all day and are awake all night. They pace. They fidget and make noise. They might be anxious and uncomfortable–all are symptoms of potentially more serious problems that require closer examination.

As a result of being less active, an older sedentary dog can gain weight and become obese–essentially becoming lethargic couch potatoes.

aging of dogs
Senior dogs need special care and attention to keep them from withdrawing from normal playful activities.

Aging in Dogs Symptoms

Understanding Cognitive Dysfunction in Aging Dogs

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) is a form of age-related mental decline in dogs. Unlike normal aging, Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome involves a deterioration in cognitive functions, leading to symptoms such as altered responses, disorientation, changes in sleep patterns, and more. While there is no cure for CDS, early recognition and proactive measures, such as adjusting the dog’s diet and incorporating antioxidant supplements like CBD, can potentially slow its progression.

Unveiling the Mystery of Canine Dementia

Similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans, dogs with dementia experience a decline in intellectual acuity. Unlike humans, dogs don’t develop tau protein but exhibit ß-amyloid plaques, leading to confusion and memory loss. Early intervention can help manage cognitive decline, preserving the bond between the dog and its owner.

aging signs in dogs
CBD from hemp oil can prevent many of the age-related symptoms associated with abnormal canine aging.

The exact cause of cognitive dysfunction in dogs is not known, but beta-amyloid peptides (protein) are present in dog’s brain with CDS, as well as an increase in toxic free radicals and possible circulatory problems that contribute to brain neurons dying off, eventually showing signs of abnormal aging and mental deterioration.

However, there is such a thing as ‘normal aging’ in dogs. So, while some aspects of your dog’s emotional reaction and intellectual functions do decline with age, CDS should be considered a pathological dysfunction and not a normal process of aging that every dog has to experience.

Similar to memory dysfunction in people, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, the loss of intellectual acuity in canine dementia is not well understood. But research is uncovering important causes and potential treatments for senility and perception dysfunction syndromes in our K9 companions.

One major difference between dogs and humans’ developmental dementia is that dogs don’t get the tau protein, which forms neurofibrillary tangles in human brains, but dogs do get the ß-amyloid plaques. These deposits cause them to become confused, not remember things and lose the ability to figure things out that were previously commonly recognizable.

Tragically, in more advanced cases of dog dementia, a senile dog may no longer recognize the face or understand voice commands of its loving owner. Early awareness and intervention can help reduce progressive neurological deterioration for the majority of older, mature dogs.

Signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome:

  • Altered response to family members
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Sleep changes
  • House soiling
  • Activity changes
  • Excessive panting
  • Restlessness, pacing and confusion
  • Agitation / aggression
  • Reduced interest in food
  • Excessive drinking and urinating
  • Difficulty navigating the environment, such as climbing stairs
Symptoms of aging in dogs
A tough exterior and grizzled face are badges of honor for a wise old dog.

Note: not all dogs that experience cognitive dysfunction will show all of the above clinical signs. A large 2011 study out of Australia bears this out. Researchers found that the overall prevalence of cognitive dysfunction was a little more than 14 percent, but only about 1.9 percent of cases are diagnosed.

The same study found that the chances of having cognitive dysfunction increase with age, so that by the time a dog is 15 years old, 41% will have at least one sign consistent with cognitive decline while another study estimated the prevalence in geriatric dogs at 68 percent.

Therefore, every dog with suspected cognitive dysfunction should receive a CBC and chemistry panel, urinalysis and a neurological examination to rule out other potential causes for your dog’s disoriented symptoms or changes in behavior.

Seldom is CDS life threatening in itself, but the disease can affect the bond between a dog and its owner. Regardless of the diagnosis, you should expect changes in many of your daily routines and interactions with your dog–so be ready to make appropriate lifestyle adjustments in order to preserve the quality of your dog’s life for as long as possible.

Nurturing Your Wise Companion: Senior Dog Care

Caring for an aging dog involves special considerations to ensure their comfort and well-being. Recognizing the distinction between normal aging and potential health issues is crucial. Regular veterinary checkups are essential for monitoring vision, hearing, joint health, and identifying any signs of pain or mobility issues. Dental care, skin checks, and attention to dietary needs contribute to the overall well-being of your senior canine friend.

As compassionate, caring pet parents there are things we can do to intervene and improve a dog’s ability to function and improve its quality of life into its senior years.

Just because a dog is getting old doesn’t mean that we stand on the sidelines and watch the life drain from their furry bodies.

The Role of CBD in Senior Dog Health

Research suggests that CBD-rich hemp can offer therapeutic benefits for aging dogs. CBD may help counteract oxidative damage, support brain health, and alleviate conditions such as pain, inflammation, and seizures. Pet owners report improvements in their senior dogs’ quality of life, including enhanced sleep, increased appetite, and a more youthful demeanor.

Senior pet care
All dogs deserve love and compassion–some may require extra special care and assistance for age-related dementia & painful joints.

When Does Senior Pet Care Begin?

Generally speaking, most veterinarians begin to classify dogs as ‘seniors’ around age eight–roughly equivalent to a person who is 55 years old. But with so many conditions in an older pet mimicking “normal” cognitive decline it’s important to rule out any other physical reason for these symptoms or behaviors.

For instance, if the pet is just standing in the middle of the room staring for a moment, it might be having a partial seizure. If it has disengaged with its owner, it could be withdrawing because of chronic pain, or if it’s relieving itself in the house could signal a more serious kidney disease.

Fortunately, there are treatments and interventions that can help manage and mitigate these problems and delay the progression of age-related conditions to help our four-legged friends grow old gracefully.

Senior Dog Check Up’s

As with regular vet checkups for puppies and adult dogs, vet visits should continue for mature dogs to check for signs of vision & eye disease, hearing loss, joint diseases, pain & mobility issues. Early detection and treatment for cancer still apply to older dogs.

A major focus that gets overlooked are dental issues, so annual checkups on your older dog’s teeth and oral health can help maintain good dental condition. Veterinary dental care can have a profound contribution to the long-term overall health of your furry friend.

Another part of the veterinarian exam will be to look for skin & coat diseases and fatty lumps that tend to appear on dogs as they grow older.

Supplements For Aging Dogs – CBD Oil for Senior Dogs

Research has found CBD-rich hemp to be a favorable therapeutic aid to offset the oxidative damage, neuronal loss and brain atrophy that accompanies aging. Fortifying your dog’s diet with natural cannabidiol (CBD) can provide a measure of protection against cellular inflammation, plaque formation and age-related cognitive deterioration.

Meta-data analysis of 25 separate studies suggest that cannabinoid-based pharmacotherapies may serve as effective replacement/adjunctive options regarding pain alleviation.

In addition, pet owners have reported using CBD for dogs to provide palliative care for their older dogs with physical and psychological ailments such as pain, inflammation, epileptic seizures and cancer. CBD has also been used to relieve other non-specific conditions like allergies, separation anxiety, phobias, and canine digestive issues with great success.

CBD treatment for senior dogs
CBD can be an Elixir of Life for older dogs with it’s balancing affect the endocannabinoid system.

According to these pet owners, the quality of their dog’s life vastly improved after using CBD. Senior dogs consuming CBD on a daily basis seemed especially happier; they slept better, had more appetite and gained back essential body weight.

Older dogs given CBD are often described as having reverted back their once youthful vigorous & vital selves.

Elder dogs showed increased energy, had more stamina & endurance and were, overall, more cheerful and contented in their later years–reversing the ordinary ravages of time!

More importantly, dogs given CBD seemed more playful, lively and sociable, having regained the ability to move about freely once their previously restrictive body aches and pains were eliminated. Grateful pet parents agree, CBD can be the elixir-of-life for their dignified veteran dog.

However, CBD is more than just an end-of-life, compassion-care product for geriatric dogs. Studies indicate it is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent useful for younger dogs as well. Cognitive decline and behavioral changes in our senior dogs may seem inevitable, but the extent and severity of that deterioration can be negated (and possibly reversed) with lifestyle adjustments that provide helpful behavioral stimulation to your pet.

Fostering Mental Well-being in Senior Dogs

Senior dogs, like humans, may experience cognitive decline and behavioral changes. Incorporating mental stimulation through activities, toys, and training can help maintain cognitive function. CBD treats and positive reinforcement techniques can contribute to mental alertness, providing a more fulfilling and interactive experience for both the dog and its owner.

At any age, creative cerebral stimulation and enrichment plays a key role in slowing cognitive decline in a dog. Puzzles and toys that require analytical agility can increase your pup’s awareness, stimulate memory and reinvigorate your dog’s slow brain function.

Just as staying active with frequent walks and exercise helps a person with severe impairment or loss of intellectual capacity, playing and working with the pet owner and other companion animals helps mentally stimulate your dog.

aging of dogs
Using early-development training techniques (including CBD dog treats) can help senior dogs stay mentally focused.

Dog owners can “re-fresh” their aging dog’s mental perception and alertness by reintroducing training techniques previously used in their ‘puppy training days. The same high-praise, high-reward games used to first train your puppy can similarly be applied to older dogs who often need reminders to improve behaviors such as night walking, house soiling and fear phobias.

Physical exercise and ‘mental-activities-training’ are positive reinforcement techniques owners can use to revive an old dog’s behavior–and it’s important for rekindling the loving bond owners miss as their dog ages.

Caring for Your Aging Dog with Compassion & Love

What do you do when your dog grows old? When their pads are worn and their bodies are breaking down? When are their coats thinning and their muzzles are pocked with gray? When your subtle words of praise are muted against crinkled ears? When their eyes are less vibrant, and their limbs are painful and decrepit?

CBD oil for aging dogs symptoms
Being the proud parent of an older dog is not easy, but it can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

You do what you’ve always done–you praise them louder, you provide them additional comfort and you offer compassionate care for their weary bones–and you deliver the love reserved for a devoted, honorable friend.

You grow from the experience and support their very existence by every means possible.

Older dogs understand they are weak and vulnerable, but by identifying the early mental changes that accompany CDS behaviors and managing the physical limitations beset an aging dog with natural, full spectrum CBD-rich hemp, you are more able to provide effective, compassionate care that your best friend wants & deserves.

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3 thoughts on “Nurturing Your Aging Dog: A Comprehensive Guide for Loving Owners”

  1. This article is so informative. Of course I hope our golden never gets to these places in her life, but if & when she does I will now know what is happening. So far she is a happy go lucky 11 1/2 year old. Thank you for all your doing to help us with our older dogs.

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  2. What a wonderful article. My German Shepherd Parker is 14. A little wobbly in the back legs. But is young at heart and mind.

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  3. Excellent articles of aging with compassion for our best friends. Our golden, Bella is almost 15 and starting to wobble so I will be ordering your product with confidence as I have found your site most informative. Thank you!

    Reply

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