Old Dog Diseases

Check back often for new content. Under Old Dog Diseases, I will list the common maladies and syndromes that I am often contacted about. In as many cases as possible, I will also write a corresponding post that will give more information so you can have a better idea of what is going on with your older or elderly dog. 

Geriatric Neuropathy In The Older Dog

One of the most common reasons people call me is because their dog is having difficulty getting up or lying down or has weakness in the rear legs. The perception is that it’s “horrible” arthritis or “hip dysplasia.” It’s not! It’s an unrecognized neurological affliction related to degeneration of the spinal cord and can also affect the brain causing cognitive dysfunction or dementia.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD - Dementia)

This, like neuropathy, is common in the aging pet and is seen in both cats and dogs. It is almost a mirror image of what is seen in people and the signs can be similar.

Kidney Disease

It is important to know that once the cat or dog develops symptoms of kidney disease, or kidney insufficiency is found by way of blood tests, a significant amount of the kidney tissue has been depleted and cannot be regenerated.

Vestibular Disease

Vestibular disease is related to a problem in the middle ear whereby the normal orientation of the body related to earth is not normal. It causes dizziness and is similar to motion sickness. In dogs, it is called Old Dog Vestibular Disease and in cats, it is called Feline Idiopathic Vestibular Disease.

Heart Disease

I hear about heart disease in Dogs and Cats fairly often. Small breed dogs are represented more than larger breed dogs and with greater severity of symptoms. Heart murmurs are  frequently mentioned in cats, but I don’t hear about congestive heart failure in cats as often as with smaller breed dogs. Coughing is the most commonly mentioned symptom in dogs and difficulty breathing is the most commonly mentioned symptom in cats.

Abdominal Masses

Since I just deal with geriatric, elderly and terminal pets, I see masses (tumors, growths) within the abdomen fairly frequently. Certain breeds are represented more often: Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Pit Bulls are among the most commonly affected. However, these tumors can be seen in any breed and any size dog or cat. Generally, around 35% are benign and 65% are malignant. 

Bone Cancer (Osteosarcoma) In Dogs

Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer) can be seen in any age dog, but is more common in the geriatric one, and is seen more often in larger breeds. It can affect any bone in the body, but is usually found in one of the legs. When a leg is affected, lameness is the first sign recognized. Early diagnosis is critical as the sooner treatment can be instituted the better. Radiographs (X-Rays) provide the easiest method of diagnosis.