Common illnesses in older dogs
Cataracts and vision loss in senior dogs
One ailment common to all breeds and sizes of dog is the development of cataracts. As with humans, dogs develop cataracts when the cells making up the lens over the eye build up over time, eventually becoming opaque. Their eyes then take on a bluish tint and their vision begins to deteriorate.
Dogs with diabetes develop cataracts more quickly, as it’s linked to an excess of glucose in the blood. Diabetes itself is more common in dogs who are obese, so keeping your dog at their ideal body weight is a good way to prevent associated conditions like cataracts. Regular visits to your vet can help catch this condition early; in 80% of cases, cataract surgery undertaken in the preliminary stages of the disease has been successful.
Hypothyroidism in older dogs
This is the most common hormonal disease in dogs and occurs when the thyroid gland begins to weaken and become underactive. Although the causes of hypothyroidism aren’t completely clear, they are associated with your dog’s immune system ‘attacking’ the thyroid and damaging it, or from treatments for an overactive thyroid.
If your senior dog is suffering with hypothyroidism, they’ll gain weight despite being on the same diet. They may exhibit reluctant behaviour towards exercise, alongside weakness and anxiousness. Their coat is also affected, becoming dull and dry with hair loss, alongside thick, greasy and sometimes itchy skin.