dog may live from 10 to over 20 years of age depending on genetics, living
environment, and quality of care. Be sure to ask your dog's
veterinarian for nutritional, housing and preventive care advice if you want to
extend your dog's lifespan.
aging process is gradual. One
morning you may notice a few gray hairs, or that your dog is moving more slowly
than usual. As time goes on, your
dog's social interactions may begin to change. The first signs may be your
dogs sleeps more or doesn't greet you every time your arrive home.
progress to keeping people up at night by pacing, circling, vocalizing.
You may ask yourself, "Is my
getting dementia or Alzheimer's disease?"
The control of underlying medical conditions impacts the success of any
behavior modification program.
What causes the behavior signs of aging?
The geriatric pet often
experiences a combination of problems from medical to behavioral conditions.
Cognitive dysfunction is a medical condition that often leads to
behavior problems. Your dog's veterinarian
can diagnosis, treat and control medical problems such as cognitive dysfunction
and help you address the behavior issues related to aging with the use of medication, diet and/or behavior modification.
Combining a complete
behavioral history with a medical work-up results in the most
accurate diagnosis from your veterinarian.
What behavior problems result from cognitive dysfunction?
Potential behavior problems associated with cognitive dysfunction include but
are not limited to:
separation anxiety); increased vocalization; restlessness and sleeping
disorders; aggression; fears and phobias; compulsive behaviors; housesoiling;
and destructive behavior.
Medications and dietary changes may help some dogs with underlying problems such
as cognitive dysfunction.
What to do to help your dog age gracefully?
Establish and provide regular routines for your
Maintain consistent schedules especially for diet and exercise.
Keep stress to a minimum.
acclimate your dog to any changes in the household schedule.
If housesoiling is an issue, consider confining your dog to a safe,
easy-to-clean area like a bathroom or laundry room.
Remember the aging process may alter your dog's awareness and ability to
signal or alert you of needs such as the need to eliminate. Make sure your
dog always has easy access to comfortable bedding, fresh food and
fresh water. Rule of thumb: Take
your dog out to eliminate at least one more time per day.