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As Jesse, my yellow Labrador, get’s older I am noticing changes in her behavior. Not only is she slowing down and unable to hear, but I am noticing other behaviors that are new.
Last night I was trying to sleep and Jesse kept wining and barking. Although she was laying right next to me on her dog bed, she would just randomly bark. She didn’t need to go out so I just pet her, letting her know I was there, until she stopped. We also find her randomly staring off into space and barking for no reason.
What happens as a dog gets old?
As dogs age they will most likely develop Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) or Canine Cognitive Decline (CCD), starting at age 10-ish for Labradors or large breeds. This is similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. As the dog brain ages, the chemicals in the brain decrease. This can cause:
- Disorientation or changes in learned behavior
- Anxiety or fear
- Sleep Interruption
- Soiling in the house
- Compulsive behaviors
Anxiety, fear and compulsion can be one of the first signs of Cognitive Dysfunction. They can also start to forget commands or wander around in what has always been familiar territory.
How do I know if my old dog is in pain?
Pain can also cause behavior changes in your dog and humans often can’t tell when their dog is in pain. They don’t cry and may not always limp so paying attention to signs like withdrawal or aggression are important. Aggression in an older dog, that is usually sweet and calm, could be a sure sign they are in pain. I am grateful Jesse has not shown any aggression! I have blogger friends that suggest CBD oil for dog pain but I haven’t tried it.
How do you treat an old dog?
If you recognize any of these changes in your dog, talk to your vet. There could be other medical conditions going on and treatment options available. For example, if they are having accidents in the house, it could be due to a medical condition.
Once the dementia behaviors start, there is little we can do to reverse them but we can slow them down and help them to be more comfortable.
- Exercise is important and can help them stay mentally and physically fit! Using their brains so they stay stimulated helps slow down the process. So keep working with them!
- Nutrition is also key! I wrote about how bad commercial dog food is. You need to know what they are eating. I feed my dogs Taste of the Wild and they absolutely love it. I have also seen healthy changes in them since I switched! (autoship from chewy for free shipping and 5% off)
- Omega 3 supplements can help there immune system as a source of heathy fatty acids. (Taste of the wild has this)
- Melatonin can help for dogs that have trouble sleeping at night. It can aid them if they start having their days and nights mixed up.
- Milk Thistle is good for their eyes and liver.
- Trending recently is CBD oil for pain. I have not tried this but I read on AKC to make sure you buy organic and not to price shop. You want the good stuff.
What is considered old age for a dog?
Facts are that dogs age a lot faster than humans, it’s inevitable. In general, larger dogs, like Labradors, age faster than smaller dogs. I have a post on dog breeds that give the life span for the top 10 most popular family dogs. You can read that for more of an idea for how long they will live. An older Chihuahua might be 18 years of age but an older Labrador Retriever might be seven. Regardless, it’s good to know the signs and treatments that can help.
It’s also relieving to know they are connected to us by the soul. So it may be a shorter time they are with us in this lifetime, but they are always with us!
I hope you found this helpful. Many blessings to you and your dogs as they grow older!
The Dog Connection ~ Holli
Reference: AKC Kennel Club