How to Care for Your Dog as It Gets Older

leo-wilson.jpg  Pet expert and founder of CyberPet blog.

   WWS contributor



They say that dogs are man’s best friend—and they are right. Dogs have a remarkable capacity to form affectionate relationships with humans that can last for a lifetime.

Dogs, and also other pets like cats, can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. They ease loneliness, and encourage playfulness and exercise.

Pets also provide valuable companionship for older adults and can even improve your cardiovascular health. And caring for a pet can help children to grow up more secure and active.

But, as dogs age, they need special care. 

As your dog gets older, there are many health problems that can affect its life, such as hip and joint problems, heartworm, and kidney failure.

In fact, after 10 years old, your dog’s organs begin to wear down. As such, caring for your dog’s organs during their golden years is also important to help the dog live a longer and healthier life.


Image: Wikimedia Commons.


Here are some interesting facts about your dog’s organs and how to care for them:


1. Heart


Have you ever wondered how common is heart disease in dogs?

Whether you believe it or not, heart disease is one of the most common problems in dogs, especially in large breeds. Most importantly, the incidence of heart disease increases dramatically with age.

If you are seeing any of the following signs in your dog, you should let your veterinarian know as soon as possible: tired, lack of energy, reduced ability to exercise, difficulty breathing, restlessness, and frequent coughing.

Like us, preventative measures are key. To get started, feed your large pooch a healthy diet. Don’t forget to make sure they get enough exercise. And finally, take your dogs to the vet for yearly checkups.

However, if your dog has been diagnosed with heart disease, don't lose hope. With early diagnosis and appropriate treatment and management, you increase your dog's opportunity to live a more normal life.


2. Liver


A multi-purpose organ, the liver is responsible for many things. It plays an important behind-the-scenes role in our bodies, and the same is true for our dogs.

Your dog’s liver is key in removing toxins from their bloodstream. So, it is no surprise that the most common liver problems are caused by the ingestion of poisons and toxic material.

Liver disease is listed in the top five causes of deaths in senior dogs. This statistic may be because liver damage is difficult to determine. Why? Because many of the symptoms are similar to other issues affecting your dog.

The good news is that no specific breed has a higher risk of these issues. “The only prevention is to avoid known toxins, and to test lab values on prescriptions that may cause liver damage, such as NSAIDS”, says Dr. Steve Weinberg, a K9 specialist.

Be sure to take your dogs to the vet if they have any of these signs: vomiting and diarrhea, weight loss, jaundice (yellowing eyes, ears, or gums).


Image: Wikimedia Commons.


3. Kidney


Much like the liver, the kidney is prone to damage from toxins and medications. This kind of damage can lead to kidney disease and even kidney failure in dogs. Kidney disease is classified in two ways; acute and chronic.

Antifreeze is one of the most common toxins that causes kidney failure in dogs.

When the kidneys are no longer able to filter out toxins from your dog’s bloodstream, the kidneys go into failure. It means the kidneys have stopped working altogether.

Can kidney disease in dogs be prevented?

A balanced, low in fat, species-appropriate diet will supply your pet with the fundamental nutrients needed for their body, which will give your dog the best chance of staying healthy.

Always take them to your vet for an annual health check to ensure any signs of disease can be spotted as soon as possible.


What Can You Do to Help Your Dog’s Organs as they Age - Infographic


Generally, a diet for weight management, daily exercise, the best place for quality sleep at night is the easiest way to care for your dogs.

Also, observe proper hygiene practices to avoid opportunistic diseases that can affect your dog, including cleaning ears frequently to avoid ear infections.

Check out this neat infographic from CyberPet that offers more information and highlights fun facts about a dog's body and organs, and how to care for them below.


Leo Wilson graduated from a university major in animal health and behavior. He had over a decade of experience working in the pet industry and has contributed many dogs and pet-related articles to several websites before he decided to start sharing his knowledge on his own blog CyberPet.