‘Forgotten’ Illnesses Now Common in Senior Dogs | Health

Disclosure / Ceva Animal Health

The longer life span of dogs has health consequences, but these can be avoided with proper treatment.

With the advancement of veterinary medicine and the greater care that pets have received over the years, the life expectancy of animals has increased considerably, which is very good. However, this greater longevity also has negative impacts on the health and well-being of pets, especially for dogs.

The aging process is something natural and brings important changes in the functioning of the animal’s organism and also behavioral changes, which affect both the dog and the tutor.

“With dogs living with us longer, we begin to better understand diseases that were not so talked about in the past and that are closely associated with the issue of age”, explains veterinary doctor Nathalia Fleming.

Nathalia says that knowing about the existence of these diseases and that they interfere in the pet’s life helps in prevention policies, leaving tutors more attentive to the problems they will be prepared to seek veterinary help.

Aging with quality of life and well-being is important for animals and for that to happen. it is necessary to understand the importance of a more frequent follow-up to the veterinarian.

Some of the main diseases that affect elderly dogs:

Heart diseases

The type of problem and its intensity can vary according to the size of the animal and are almost always directly related to age. In dogs, the first symptom is a dry cough, followed by tiredness in carrying out simple activities. Cardiac auscultation is part of the consultation with the veterinarian, but it is recommended that from the age of 5, cardiac evaluation is part of the pet’s annual exams.

An animal with heart disease can have a normal life as long as it is diagnosed early and correctly medicated, with continuous and more frequent monitoring by the veterinarian.

Dental Problems

Just like humans, the better we take care of our teeth, the less problems they will have, and the most common dental problems in elderly pets are the accumulation of tartar, bacterial plaque, periodontal disease and tumors in the mouth region. In addition, some teeth may break or suffer from cavities. In certain cases, teeth need to be extracted.

Brushing the teeth of pets is a procedure that should be done, whenever possible, from a puppy. It is common, with advancing age, that the teeth become more fragile and end up falling out. To prevent major problems, evaluation of the oral cavity and more thorough tartar cleaning may be recommended periodically.


Cataract is the opacification of the lens of the eye, which can occur completely or partially, and is irreversible. It can be related to the natural aging process of the pet or be related to poorly controlled diabetes, malnutrition, trauma and inflammation.

The diagnosis is made by the veterinarian through eye examination and, when detected, it is important to research its origin to treat.

Typically, the condition progresses to blindness in the animal. Although there is already surgery for cataract reversal in pets, it may not be recommended for some patients.

It is possible for the pet to live with the condition without major problems, with some adaptations. Walks should always be on the same path, so that the dog feels safe recognizing the smells, sounds and distances covered. If possible, avoid moving furniture at home, keeping objects always in the same place to prevent the pet from feeling lost or ending up hitting or bumping into furniture. The bed, water and food pot must always remain in the same place, so that the pet can have access to them whenever they need to.

orthopedic problems

With age, joints and cartilage degrade, which promotes joint pain. The most common orthopedic disease in elderly dogs is osteoarthritis, and the main symptoms observed are slower locomotion, difficulties in accessing higher places, resistance to longer walks, lameness and, in some moments of pain, animals can show themselves a little resistant to the touch in the joint area.

The prevention of orthopedic problems starts with a balanced diet, since overweight and obesity greatly influence the early wear of the joints. In addition, regular exercise helps maintain muscle health and relieve joint strain. A good option for pets that already suffer from some joint discomfort can be the use of the hydrotreadmill, which relieves contact with the ground and accelerates joint rehabilitation.

In some cases, the veterinarian may prescribe specific medications to reduce pain and food supplements that help in collagen replacement and joint protection.


Tumors (the famous “balls”) in dogs can be the first signs of cancer, especially in elderly dogs. Enlarged lymph nodes and the presence of lumps on the neck, armpits and back of the animal, and wounds that do not heal are warning signs.

In other cases, such as lymphomas and leukemias, the first signs can be seen in routine blood tests.

Cases of cancer in pets have grown more and more in recent years, especially in elderly dogs, and, as in humans, early detection brings greater chances of cure. The specific treatment is determined by the veterinarian and involves the type of cancer, its location and the animal’s general condition. In some cases, surgery to remove the tumor and chemotherapy is recommended, in others only surgery or chemotherapy is necessary.

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