Old is Gold


How do you know your dog is ageing?
Here, we have to remember all symptoms do not appear together, it is, thankfully a gradual and slow process, but for an observant and alert pet parent these are not difficult to notice. When your dear pooch starts showing some of the below mentioned symptoms, gradually after 5 to 7 years, one can say that he/she is ageing:

  • Hair on the face and paws start graying.
  • Food intake reduces or fussiness is observed.
  • Less tolerance is shown during exercise, daily walks and even activities which were enjoyed as a younger dog.
  • One notices an aloof and lost look like brooding in his/her eyes and when you make eye contact; you miss that instant tail wagging.
  • Less response to your calls or whistles or sometimes even ignoring the same is observed.
  • You miss that grand welcome jump when you come back after a day’s work and enter the house; instead your dog waits for you to come to him.

What are the factors affecting ageing?
There are certain factors which affect a dog’s ageing:

  • Activity level: For example, a dog in an active household, full of active children and teenagers, maintains a certain level of vigorous activity and will show these symptoms much later as compared to a dog who stays with senior citizens. The factor responsible for this is simply the activity and exercise level.
  • Size of dogs: The thumb rule is ‘larger the dog, shorter the life span and smaller the dog, longer the life.’ So, a Great Dane may live for 9 to 11 years while a Chihuahua’s life span may extend to 14 or more also.
  • Health care and vaccination schedule: It also helps to delay this ageing process and also gifts your wonderful companion a quality life.

What are the old age ailments?
Similar to humans, most dogs suffer from old age ailments, like:

  • Heart problems
  • Arthritic and rheumatic conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney and liver failure, etc
  • Ultimately, it snatches away our beloved companion from us.

How to take care of an old dog?
One has to remember the fact that once your doggie is above 6 to 7 years of age and starts ageing he/she needs more attention and medical care than before. Mentioned below are some symptoms which every pet parent should look out for, be alert about and get instant veterinary help:

  • Frequent vomiting and drinking excessive water all of a sudden.
  • Frequent urination and defecation, more accidents occurring in the house.
  • Whimpering in pain while running, exercising or simply to get up from the floor or bed.
  • Relentless harsh dry cough, laboured breathing and bluish tongue.
  • Convulsions or spasms of any kind, even for short spans.

The above mentioned are all serious and life threatening symptoms and immediate veterinary aid has to be sought. All said and done, making the last few years of this beloved companion comfortable and healthier is the duty of every responsible pet parent.
(Dr Achina Joglekar, graduated from Bombay Veterinary College, is a practicing physician over the last 12 years. She is currently working at Petland Veterinary Clinic, Miramar, Goa.)