As dogs get older, they can experience gradual changes in both their physical and mental abilities. It is important to understand that these changes can signify the beginning of a medical problem. Rather than assuming it is age, we recommend that you bring your dog for a veterinarian evaluation as he or she may have an easily manageable or treatable health condition.
We recommend that you schedule an appointment if any of the following signs are seen:
- increased thirst
- increased or decreased urination
- changes in appetite
- sudden increased vocalization
- poor hair coat or if develops disinterest in grooming
- develops a lump
- is coughing or having breathing problems
- is unusually anxious or irritable
- inappropriate elimination (urine or stool)
- unexplained weight loss
- changes in activity
Diseases that often can appear as behavior changes in dogs include:
- Arthritis: This causes joint pain which can make dogs appear to play with family less, have reluctance to move up/down stairs, unable to walk normal distances and develop a limp.
- Cataracts: This essentially causes blindness and
- Hypertension: This causes sustained high blood pressure which can make dogs more lethargic, appear confused, more aggressive or irritable, or seizure. Some dogs can drink and urinate more frequently, or seem like they suddenly go blind.
- Kidney disease: This causes improper function of kidneys and allows toxins to buildup in the bloodstream. Commonly, dogs will drink and urinate more frequently. Dogs can become so sick that they develop a metabolic acidosis which can cause lack of appetite, vomiting, weakness, muscle wasting and weight loss.
- Hearing loss: This can cause a dog to act more anxious, be more vocal and not respond to commands or sounds around the house anymore.
- Brain tumor: The location can be important in determining what is seen at home. Frequently dogs can display seizures, appear to have difficulty walking or have a head tilt.
- Cognitive Dysfunction syndrome: This resembles Alzheimer’s disease in dogs. It is only diagnosed by ruling out other medical condition and first treating any underlying health conditions.
- Diabetes: This tends to cause increased thirst, urination and appetite in most dogs. It can also lead to cataracts and weight loss (although some dogs will still be overweight).
- Hypothyroidism: This often leads to weight gain, lethargy, decreased mentality, and cold intolerance.