Dogs go through a number of changes as they grow older. Factors such as reduced activity and a change in eating habits are often par for the course with senior dogs, but you may not always know what's normal and what isn't. How do you know that your dog's change in appetite is due to a more serious problem, and not just because his sense of smell is lessened because of old age? While you should be taking your senior dog to the vet at least twice a year for a check-up, you might notice some particular behaviour that is not normal for your dog.
"The key to noticing any changes in your dog is to be well-tuned to his normal habits."
Taking action right away is especially important when you have an older dog as conditions can progress very quickly.
Here is a list of symptoms and situations that would require a veterinarian's immediate attention:
1. Any unusual lumps or bumps on your dog's skin. Older dogs often get lumps that end up being benign; however, you should always bring them to your vet's attention. Make it part of your regular grooming routine to inspect your dog's skin. Don't forget to check the mouth - tumours there tend to be the most serious. Other warning signs of cancer tumours include foul odours or unusual discharge or bleeding.
2. If your dog is experiencing shortness of breath, it could indicate a heart problem.
3. A sudden change in appetite could be a sign of kidney failure or other serious problems.
4. Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
5. A dog that is drinking more water than usual and urinating more frequently could have kidney disease or diabetes.
6. Sudden changes in temperament. If your dog is normally very gentle and suddenly becomes aggressive, it could indicate a medical problem.
7. If your dog is lethargic for 24 hours or more.
8. Continuous vomiting
9. Abdominal tenderness or swelling are signs of bloating.
10. If you notice lameness when getting up, or a limp in your dog's walk.
11. Diarrhea for more than 24 hours or diarrhea with blood should be an alert to call the vet.
12. Rashes, falling out fur, excessive shedding or chewing at spots on the body should be brought to your vet's attention.
13. Should the eyes look hazy or your dog seem to have trouble seeing or there is an abnormal discharge from the eye, call the vet.
14. Bad breath and yellow teeth indicate dental issues - though not an emergency this should be addressed. However, if the breath smells sweet, there could be other problems. Pale gums can be signs of a serious problem.
15. Anything that seems out of the ordinary for your dog could be cause for concern.