As dogs get older, they develop similar symptoms to elderly humans. They start moving slower and show less interest in play. Their sleep and eating patterns may also change. That makes sense, and most dog owners are aware of it and expect it; it’s the speed with which this happens that’s so disconcerting. One day your dog is still in the prime of his life, running about after anything that’s moving, and the next, it is reluctant to take a walk with you.
Keep in mind that dogs age faster than humans and look out for the following signs that your dog is getting older.
Common conditions in aging dogs
1. Mobility issues
Many older people move around with great difficulty, so do dogs, especially if they suffer from osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease. You will know that your dog probably suffers from this condition if it seems stiff and uncomfortable when walking and taking the stairs. The condition will be especially noticeable in cold and damp weather.
2. Hearing loss
If your dog doesn’t respond to your commands anymore, it might be going deaf. Hearing loss usually happens gradually, so you might not notice it immediately. Hearing loss is a common complaint in elderly humans as well. As long as you take care not to make sudden loud noises near your dog that might frighten it, you’ll have a happy dog if your routine stays the same. In fact, the discovery that your dog might be going deaf will be more upsetting for you than your dog.
3. Loss of eyesight
Like with humans, it’s common for older dogs to gradually lose their sight. This can be caused by old age itself or an eye disease. Nothing can be done to treat blindness due to old age. Just keep your dog on a leash when on a walk, and don’t change its physical environment by moving furniture around.
4. Canine cognitive dysfunction
Canine cognitive dysfunction is similar to dementia in humans. Dogs suffering from dementia seem disoriented and lost. Typical signs are when your dog stands still and stares at nothing in particular, seeming to wait for something to happen. It may stand in a corner, staring into the corner, or wait to go outside at the wrong side of the door. Other signs are vocalizing, withdrawing from family members, and toilet accidents.
Cancer is very common in older dogs. You won’t know if your dog is struggling with cancer as such or with something else. Take your dog for a check-up as soon as you notice a change in behavior.
Old age can make it hard for your dog to control its bodily functions. Incontinence is usually a sign that your dog is getting older, but it could also be caused by any number of diseases, so have your dog checked by the vet.
7. Skin problems
Older dogs often develop lumps and growths on their skin. These may or may not be a sign of cancer. Oftentimes though, they are merely benign growths. Be wary of lumps that suddenly appear, start growing or lumps that change shape, color or size.
8. Change in weight
While it is more likely that your elderly dog will gain weight, some elderly dogs lose their appetite and may lose weight. You may need to change your dog’s diet accordingly. Keep in mind that obesity in a dog can exacerbate other health issues like arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes.
CBD for the elderly dog
Older dogs are just like older humans, full of all manner of health issues. You may be aware that many dog owners are using CBD to treat their dogs, but exactly what is CBD?
CBD (cannabidoil) is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. There are more than a hundred cannabinoids in cannabis, but most people are familiar with CBD and THC. THC is the compound that gets you high when you smoke marijuana. It is toxic to dogs, so you should be careful to buy CBD oil that contains little or no THC.
CBD can improve the life quality of elderly dogs by addressing certain symptoms related to some of the conditions elderly dogs suffer from. Let’s look at the specifics.
Conditions in aging dogs that CBD can relieve
CBD is not a cure for arthritis but it can reduce inflammation in the body associated with arthritis. By reducing swelling and inflammation, CBD relieves joint pain, helping your dog to be more comfortable.
Scientists have discovered that CBD has natural anti-inflammatory properties, and since CBD has no unwanted side effects, you can safely use it to relieve your dog’s arthritic pain. Arthritis in dogs is usually treated with aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs are very effective, but they have potential side effects such as liver and kidney damage.
It seems that dogs who can’t digest the traditional pain medications benefit greatly from CBD oil. Their owners report that their dogs seem to be more mobile and comfortable while they are on CBD products.
- Cognitive dysfunction
One of the known benefits of CBD is its effect on older dogs. Owners who give their senior dogs CBD report that their dogs show a return to a normal state of mental clarity and alertness and that they are more playful.
Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) can cause considerable anxiety in elderly dogs as they become increasingly confused and disengaged from their human family members. Older dogs lose general alertness and confidence as they get older, leading to anxiety. Scientists suspect that they also suffer from memory loss in old age like humans, which in itself is alarming for senior dogs.
Of course, CBD won’t cure the dementia, but it could relieve the anxiety that accompanies dementia.
CBD oil can relieve anxiety because of its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body. The ECS system has cannabinoid receptors that are distributed throughout the central nervous system, the organs and the brain. When endocannabinoid chemicals are introduced to the body through the intake of a CBD product, the receptors on the chemicals connect to the cannabinoid receptors in the body, which stimulates the body’s natural ability to produce serotonin. Serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer.
In addition to relieving anxiety related to dementia, CBD will also help your elderly dog in general anxiety-causing situations such as loud noises, too much activity, too many people, being left alone too long, or threatening situations that your dog is no longer ready to handle. Regular doses of CBD oil can help older dogs feel calm in tense situations.
The cannabinoids in CBD oil interact with the endocannabinoid system in dogs, which helps to relieve pain and nausea, both symptoms of cancer in dogs. Although there are no cases of CBD actually curing cancer, there may be a CBD medication in the future that could possibly reduce or eliminate the tumors. Researchers don’t understand the precise mechanisms, but they have found that CBD can trigger apoptosis (natural cell death) in cancer cells. Promising research results show that cannabinoids can inhibit the growth of tumor cells in culture and animal models.
- Improves digestion and controls weight
Certain health conditions reduce appetite, as a result, you dog may lose interest in food. CBD can stop your dog from losing too much weight by increasing appetite.
According to research, CBD can also ease digestion problems related to gastrointestinal diseases. Many older dogs have digestive problems, and CBD helps to reduce vomiting and nausea associated with these health conditions. When these symptoms are relieved, dogs regain their interest in food.
On the other hand, many older dogs tend to put on too much weight. CBD can regulate appetite and suppress a big appetite.
- Relieve skin conditions
Older dogs can develop a number of skin conditions, including itchiness, dryness and swelling. CBD oil has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can counteract these symptoms. CBD also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, which may make it useful for the treatment of skin infections.
A 2012 study on dogs with a chronic skin condition showed that CBD improved the appearance of skin, which didn’t seem so inflamed and sore or itchy any longer. A topical CBD product can help to relieve some discomfort that a dog is living with, thereby improving its quality of life.
How much CBD oil should you give your dog?
At this point in time, there are no scientific suggestions on safe dosages. Most vets are not allowed to prescribe CBD, but many holistic vets, who support the use of CBD for dogs, have said that it’s better to start with a small dosage and slowly increase it depending on the dog’s reaction to the CBD.
Be sure to buy a product made from organically grown cannabis, and most importantly, only buy a product from a manufacturer that provides a certification that proves the product was evaluated by an independent lab. If you buy such a high-quality product, you can follow the manufacturer’s dosage recommendations. Also, speak to other dog owners to see what has worked for their dogs.
It is important to understand that CBD has shown promise in the few scientific studies that have been conducted so far. While scientists are very excited about the potential of CBD, the research is still in the beginning stages, and we don’t have actual FDA-approved CBD medications for conditions like cancer and osteoarthritis. The indications mentioned in this article come from preliminary research and the experiences of dog owners who have tried CBD oil for dogs.