Dog Dementia This article is verified by a vet

dog dementia

Many dogs accompany their owner for a large part of their life and reach a ripe old age. Of course, age also leaves its mark on our furry friends. The following article reveals signs of senility in dogs and how you can make the ageing process easier. As well, we will confront the difficult question of when it is time to say goodbye.

What age do dogs reach?

There is no standard answer here, because the ageing process in dogs depends on the breed. In general, small dogs have a higher life expectancy than large dog breeds. Whilst a Chihuahua can reach up to 15 years of age, Bulldogs or St Bernards generally reach 7 to 10 years of age.

Along with these hereditary factors, external influences like diet, housing and a dog’s general state of health also play a significant role. You should always be well informed on these subjects so that your dog can live a long and happy life.

Senility in dogs: what symptoms emerge?

Senility in dogs is similar to with us pet owners. However, it cannot be predicted in advance how severely dogs are affected. Whilst some dogs hardly show any signs into old age, the quality of life of other dogs suffers from relatively early on.

The following clinical indications are observed particularly frequently with ageing dogs:

  • External features: the fur turns grey (especially on the head) or becomes dull and unkempt or even increased hair loss.
  • Loss of appetite accompanied by weight loss.
  • Joint and bone problems due to osteoporosis or arthrosis: this often leads to a dog no longer enjoying exercise or experiencing pain whilst it stands up or lies down.
  • Decrease or loss of hearing, sight and smell.
  • Age-related immunosuppression: the immune system too becomes weaker with old age, meaning that old dogs can become increasingly ill with infections.
  • Increased urination due to bladder weakness
alzheimer in dogs

How can I counteract senility in dogs?

A good general state of health is the most important thing for your beloved dog. Along with hereditary factors, this is the centrepiece of a good quality of life and life expectancy. Hence, you should focus on your dog’s health, housing and diet from the beginning.

With the following measures, you can counteract senility in dogs and make their twilight years as pleasant as possible.

1. Avoid obesity

Many studies have confirmed that obesity (adiposity) encourages underlying diseases such as diabetes mellitus. Joint complaints are also a common occurrence relating to obesity.

A balanced diet and regular exercise are therefore crucial. Both can slow down severe symptoms of ageing or prevent them entirely.

Suggested reading: we have summarised the ideal diet for ageing dogs in one article. There is of course special food for senior dogs in the zooplus online store.

2. Alleviate pain

Many healthy senior dogs experience pain when moving due to osteoporosis typical of old age. Since there is no cure for osteoporosis, a vet can alleviate pain with the help of painkillers. It can frequently be observed even after administration that motion sequences improve again, at least in the short term.

3. Regular check-ups

Good precautions have already saved many canine lives. Hence, take ageing dogs to be regularly examined by a vet. In this way, typical ailments caused by age can be recognised at an early stage and successfully treated.

4. Show understanding

It’s not easy when a beloved dog suffers from senility after so many years together. However, it’s important for you to show senior dogs plenty of understanding. Strenuous activities and stressful situations should be avoided where possible. This includes, for instance, a new puppy moving into your home.

When is it time for my old dog to go?

One thing first: as important as this question is, there is no generic answer. Senility isn’t an illness, but a natural aspect of life.

Many dogs show signs of joint complaints in old age or only have very few teeth left with with to eat. As long as the dog can cope with this, no action is necessary. Suffering can also be alleviated through care and medicinal support.

However, senility is sometimes so advanced that dogs suffer greatly. In this case, you should definitely consult a vet, because symptoms often progress rapidly in the final days of a dog’s life. In such a difficult situation, the objective counsel of a vet is important for the dog’s wellbeing.

Summary of senility in dogs

The final years or months of our dogs’ lives do not have to be difficult. Senility in dogs takes very different forms and is sometimes very mild. As well, you as a dog owner can play your part to make life as pleasant as possible for your senior furry friend.

Nevertheless, it is always difficult to say goodbye at the end of a dog’s long and wonderful life. So enjoy your time together and always remember the good moments. Thankfully our dogs provide plenty of these throughout their lifetime.

Franziska G., Veterinarian
Profilbild von Tierärztin Franziska Gütgeman mit Hund

At the Justus-Liebig-University of Giessen I was extensively trained as a veterinarian and was able to gain experience in various fields such as small animal, large animal and exotic animal medicine as well as pharmacology, pathology and food hygiene. Since then, I have been working not only as a veterinary author, but also on my scientifically driven dissertation. My goal is to better protect animals from pathogenic bacterial organisms in the future. Besides my veterinary knowledge, I also share my own experiences as a happy dog owner and can thus understand and enlighten fears and problems as well as other important questions about animal health.

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