The Secret Life of Pets: Pops may be old, but that doesn’t stop his adventures! How to ensure senior dogs, like Pops, stay happy and healthy 

If you think you know what your pet gets up to when you’re not around, the new comedy The Secret Life of Pets, which is in cinemas now, may make you think differently.

Petplan is delighted to be a brand partner for the film and takes a look at health problems that can affect dogs as they age and how best to ensure your dog stays happy like Pops…

Having an older dog is a great experience. While they may not have the youthful energy of a young pup, they more than make up for it with their calm demeanour and loving nature.

However, as they enter their twilight years, they may be susceptible to health issues. Petplan identify health problems that may creep up and offers advice & tips & on how to help your ageing pooch…

How to help arthritic dogs

Arthritis simply means inflammation of the joint and is very common in dogs. Cartilage within the joint undergoes change or damage, becoming less smooth and results in the bone surfaces rubbing together, causing pain and discomfort.

As a direct result, arthritic dogs may be less active and can subsequently put on weight. You may notice that your dog is less agile, struggles to get up after a lie down, is limping, has difficulty climbing stairs, or shows stiffness after activity or resting.

However; it remains vital that you still regularly exercise your dog. Little and often is best, such as half hour bursts two to three times a day. Whatever you choose, keep it constant, as exercising your dog more than usual on one day can leave them feeling painful the next.

If you notice these symptoms see your vet straight away. Treatment usually includes anti-inflammatory medication, (take a look at how to administer your pet’s medicine here) and your vet may recommend dietary supplements and treatments such as physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.

How to deal with loss of sight in your dog

Older dogs are more prone to losing some or all of their sight. This can be because of cataracts, which will cause your dog’s eyes to appear milky.

While small cataracts won’t disturb your dog’s vision too much, it’s a condition that needs to be monitored closely as an untreated cataract may slip and move around the eye where it can cause more damage and lead to glaucoma and, ultimately, blindness.

Other health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure can also lead to dog’s developing other serious retinal problems.

With any eye problem it’s important to consult with your vet immediately – in most cases the earlier the treatment can begin, the more favourable the outcome.

Is my dog showing signs of dementia?

While Pops remains sharp as a tack, some older dogs can lose cognition and memory capacity as they age.

They can become listless, confused and noisy. Pacing, walking in circles, soiling in the house and being grumpy can all be indicators.

If you notice these symptoms then consult your vet who, if dementia is diagnosed, may be able to prescribe medication, supplements, and/or diets which can help to alleviate.

In addition to this, activities and toys which stimulate thinking and curiosity should continue be used throughout a dog’s life to keep their mind alert.

Addressing loss of hearing in dogs

A hearing problem is commonly caused by an ear infection which, thankfully, is usually easy to treat with medication by your vet. However, other causes include nerve damage, brain disease and tumours in the ear canal – especially in older dogs.

Symptoms include unresponsiveness to everyday sounds and toys, and not being woken by loud noises. They may startle or snap when touched from behind or outside their field of vision, sleep more than usual and have difficulty arousing from sleep and disorientation/balance issues.

If you notice these symptoms, book an appointment with your vet. Dogs with temporary hearing loss caused by ear infections, tumours or build-up of wax and other debris can be easily treated. Otherwise, deafness is usually irreversible and permanent. However; you can make your dog happy and comfortable by following these tips:

Have you got an elderly dog like Pops? Share your stories and tips on looking after elderly dogs below…