We can’t prevent it: eventually our dogs will get older. But what happens in the body when your dog gets old? Aging is a biological process that cannot be prevented or reversed. However, we can influence and delay the so-called regression phase.
Visible external changes – fur & claws & Co.
From a purely external point of view, we usually notice the first signs of aging in our four-legged friends gradually. These include, graying of the fur around the head and poorer vision and hearing. The mobility and the joy of movement, as well as the condition decrease. Often, the four-legged friends lose muscle and even appear “sunken”. Our dogs have an increased need for sleep and rest and take longer to recover. In the further course, the fur on the rest of the body may also turn gray. Often the coat changes, it looks shaggier and dull. The skin also changes. Calluses form on areas that are subject to a lot of stress, such as the elbow. Often warts appear on different parts of the body. The paw pads can become cracked and need care. The claws grow more and also require special attention.
What happens in the body when your dog gets old?
With advancing age, cell division slows down and eventually comes to a halt. As a result, the function of the cells decreases. The dead cells are replaced by connective tissue in middle age. In advanced age by fatty tissue. In addition, the proportion of body fluid decreases. Metabolic waste products are deposited in the cells. The lower proportion of body fluid is very visible in us humans. Our skin, which was still plump and firm at 20, becomes wrinkled and drier as we age. A tribute to age. But the increasing “dryness” refers to the entire body. The proportion of body fluid in the musculoskeletal system also decreases. Ligaments and intervertebral discs become porous, and the joint capsule shrinks. The cartilage is also less supplied with fluid and becomes more porous. The same thing happens with the bones. As a result, they lose resilience and stability. Likewise, the muscles are supplied with less fluid.
Metabolism & Immune System
The processes described result in a reduced metabolism. This means reduced energy requirements. But at the same time that the immune system becomes weaker. The dog becomes more susceptible to infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases. Regeneration after illnesses takes significantly longer. At the same time, the reduced metabolism also affects the need for warmth in older four-legged friends. Dogs freeze faster in old age.
In many dogs, the muscles become less and weaker with age. The loss of musculature does not only mean reduced performance. At the same time, the stress on bones and joints increases. With age, muscle cells are replaced by fat cells. How pronounced the loss of musculature is, depends strongly on the activity of the quadruped. So if you always keep your dog mobile, you have a big impact on how well muscled he is.
Bones and joints change with age. As the dog ages, the elasticity of the cartilage is lost. In particular, it decreases at the edges of the joints. The joint surface decreases and thus also the mobility. Cartilage fragments splinter off, resulting in osteoarthritis. The joint fluid becomes viscous and less. The joint capsule shrinks. Joint lips and attachments develop on the bones. Particularly well known here are the bone braces on the spine in the form of spondylosis. At the same time, connective tissue structures such as intervertebral discs become porous. Bone mass also decreases. The risk of osteoporosis increases. All of these changes are exacerbated by obesity and lack of exercise.
The nerves lose their conductivity. This can lead to neurological problems. Nerve conduction is additionally affected by possible spinal cord compression due to spinal disorders such as herniated discs and spondylosis. At the same time, the brain also changes. As with us humans, this can manifest itself in the form of perceptual and orientation disorders. The memory also decreases. Dogs are less likely to find their way around their environment. In addition, they often show a decreased sense of thirst and drink less. Here lurks the danger of dehydration. So you should always make sure that your four-legged friend drinks enough. By the way, with a lot of fresh air (increased acid intake) you support the brain and the preservation of its functions.
In old age, the ability to see and hear in particular diminish. The decline in senses can also result in behavioral changes. It is possible that in certain situations your dog reacts more frightened and anxious, or on the contrary, much more calm. Your dog needs a little more time to adjust to new situations and implement things in communication with you. This is often misinterpreted as stubbornness or lack of obedience. So you should cut your dog some slack and give him a little more time.
Cardiovascular system and respiration
With age, the performance of the heart decreases significantly. In addition, it can lead to diseases such as heart failure. It is important to have your dog’s heart function checked regularly. Lung function also declines with age. The lungs can expand less and worse. Breathing changes and oxygen supply decreases. Again, regular exercise in the fresh air keeps the cardiovascular system and lung function in check and supplies the brain with oxygen.
By the way, poor dental care and tartar buildup can be triggers for heart and respiratory diseases.
In the next blog post, I’ll tell you valuable tips on how to delay the aging process of your four-legged friend!
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You are interested in the topic “older dog”? – Then I recommend my webinar on the subject:
We can’t prevent it – our dogs get older and physically decline. Often this fact makes us helpless. Because what actually happens in the dog’s body when dogs age? How can we support our four-legged friends, keep them mobile and even delay the aging process! And what can I still expect my dog to do, what is fun for older dogs and how do I deal with the aging of my four-legged friend?
I give you an insight into the biological process of aging and provides a good understanding. At the same time I give you measures how you can actively support and accompany your own dog in the process of aging- incl. Of a little workout for your senior dog.
Get 10% discount on the webinar with discount code: WEBINAR-FJI – REGISTER HERE
Additionally, as a webinar participant, you will receive a 25% course discount on all Doggy Fitness courses.