As any pet parent knows, your dog is inevitably going to get older. Regular tasks will become more difficult and your pup might need things like doggie diapers for incontinence, a dog stroller for long walks, or a dog ramp to help him navigate tricky stairs. But when we think of providing support for aging dogs, bigger dogs often get overlooked. After all, it’s easier to fit a Pomeranian in a stroller than a German Shepherd!
Bigger dogs have shorter lifespans than smaller dogs, which means they suffer just as many (if not more) age-related issues. It’s important for owners to understand the challenges their beloved dogs will encounter later in life so they can give them the best possible care. If you have a big senior dog in your family, Dog Quality has everything you need to support your furry friend. Here are a few common concerns for big senior dogs and how you can help your four-legged family member transition gracefully into her later years.
Hip dysplasia is one of the most common conditions that affects bigger dogs later in life. It is a hereditary condition that occurs when the hip joints don’t fit properly into the hip socket. Some dogs can live with hip dysplasia without too much trouble, but others will eventually experience crippling pain, lameness and arthritis. Treatment options include surgery, physical therapy and pain management, depending on the severity of the condition. If your dog is suffering from hip dysplasia, you will also need to limit his physical activity. Using a dog stroller when going for walks can help.
Similarly to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia occurs more often in bigger dogs than in smaller dogs. The severity of the condition varies with some dogs living happy, pain-free lives and others requiring surgery to alleviate symptoms. While the exact cause is unknown, the condition involves abnormalities in the elbow joint and leads to osteoarthritis. Dogs with elbow dysplasia will often be less mobile, so always monitor your big senior dog for signs of pain.
Cruciate Ligament Tears
Cruciate ligament tears are one of the most common orthopedic injuries for larger breeds, referring to a complete or partial tear of the cruciate ligament. This can occur because of excessive activity or landing wrong when jumping and playing, or it could be the result of weakening ligaments in an aging dog. Most cases require surgery and all cruciate ligament injuries need plenty of rest to heal. During recovery, your dog will benefit from shorter walks and the support of a dog stroller.
All dogs (and people) can develop arthritis as they age — small and big senior dogs alike. But due to pre-existing conditions like hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament tears which can lead to arthritis, bigger dogs are somewhat more susceptible. Larger dogs also age faster than little dogs, meaning arthritis will happen sooner. If your dog has become less willing to run and play, or if she’s stopped jumping up on her favorite chair, it could be a sign that she’s experiencing arthritis pain. You can support your pup by pushing her in a dog stroller for longer walks or getting a dog ramp to help her climb stairs or into bed.
Cervical Spondylomyelopathy (CSM)
Also known as “wobbler syndrome,” CSM refers to a disease that affects the cervical spine of large and giant breed dogs. In CSM, the spinal cord is compressed, causing a wobbly gait, neck pain and neurological issues. Bigger dogs are at greater risk because they grow faster than smaller dogs, causing more wear and tear on their bones. In some cases, CSM may prevent your dog from walking, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still take him for walks. A stroller for big dogs will give you and your pup the opportunity to get outside together.
We all rely on our kidneys to flush waste out of our bodies. When the kidneys stop functioning efficiently, it can lead to a build-up of toxins that take a significant toll on our health. The same is true for dogs. Kidney disease can refer to a number of issues, including kidney stones, kidney infection, rupture of the kidney, or simply normal aging. If your dog is losing weight, urinating more frequently or having accidents, she may be showing signs of kidney disease. Doggie diapers or dog pads can help to limit unwanted messes in the house, and medication is available to get your pup back to health.
No one wants to see their pup in pain or discomfort. As a responsible dog owner, it’s up to you to do everything it takes to support your dog through the aging process. Whether they need surgery and medication, or a stroller to help them get outside, big senior dogs need just as much love and care as smaller pups. No matter what’s ailing your senior dog, he deserves to age with dignity.