Dogs are people too. Really, they’re family. Unlike our children who grow, leave home, and take care of themselves, our dogs are with us to the end. So we are always responsible for every aspect of their lives from crate training to grave.
We are responsible for their appearance and hygiene. We are responsible for their happiness and general well-being. And most importantly, we are responsible for their health. By far, health is the biggest expense in keeping a canine family member. It is not covered under insurance. And doggy healthcare can be as expensive as human healthcare.
A responsible pet owner will not only have the resources to take care of those expenses, she will have a good idea of the types of health issues to be on the lookout for. Once armed with that information, she will know better how to avoid those pitfalls.
If you have already begun that research, here are three to add to your list:
Of all the dog diseases you can find listed online, one of the least discussed is also one of the most prevalent: old age. Like the humans in your life, you want them to die from old age. Anything less is a real tragedy. But also as with humans, old age can be a disease in its own right.
Complications from aging include, but are not limited to the following:
- Vision loss
- Hearing loss
- Mobility loss
- Bladder control loss
- Energy loss
Are you sensing a pattern? Old age tends to carry a lot of loss. The most useful thing we can do is be aware of the maturation process. All breeds age differently. Some live late into their teens. Others are ancient after 6 years. Your dog may not be sick. He may just be old.
Be mindful of how the dog feels. Many old dogs are happy all the way to the end. Others are quite miserable. And a difficult, but more compassionate decision may be in order. Expensive surgeries may not be the answer for a dog that is well past its prime. You cannot prevent old age. But you can prevent useless suffering.
WebMD talked to a vet about canine joint issues. The bottom line is that joint issues are common in dogs for obvious reasons. They run, jump, and pounce a lot. Like human athletes, their joints take a beating.
Also like human athletes, the bigger they are, the harder life is on their joints. Big dogs have it worst. All big dogs are subject to joint problems. Newfoundlands have the greatest risk of cruciate ligament problems of any other breed. With Rottweilers, it’s knee and ankle problems. And Bernese Mountain dogs are highly prone to dysplasia.
The best thing you can do proactively is manage the weight of your animal, especially if they already run large. Being aware of the foods you should avoid feeding them is as useful as knowing the best options for feeding them. You will not always be someplace where you can find the best option. But make sure that it’s what they get most of the time.
As in humans, mental health issues are still health issues. And dogs suffer from them as well. One of the most common is separation anxiety. This occurs a lot in small dogs that are used to getting up on the chair with you, or sleeping on the bed with you at night.
Changes in schedule and relocating can trigger the anxiety. The best thing you can do is deemphasize departures. Don’t make it a big deal. If they get anxious with your pre departure rituals such as putting on shoes or picking up keys, practice these rituals without leaving.
If your dog is ripping up the furniture, it might be because they miss you. And it is literally driving them crazy. This is a problem that can usually be solved without medication.
Your dog is going to get old, have achy joints on occasion, and have some fits of anxiety. At the end of the day, the best treatments and preventatives are awareness and love.