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Thread: FAQ: What should you expect as your bulldog becomes a senior?

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    Default FAQ: What should you expect as your bulldog becomes a senior?

    I thought about this today as I was giving my bulldogs baths.

    Molly is seven and I noticed much of her skin is becoming darker under her coat. Her coat is still nice and smooth, no grey hair yet. Her teeth are also becoming a bit more prominent in the front and maybe a bit more crooked.

    Occasionally when it's really moist or cold out she wakes up a bit stiff. She still has a lot of play and spunk which makes me happy.

    I also notice her booty is a little saggy over the past year, probably from being lazy most of the day.

    What are noticeable things to expect as your bulldog becomes a senior?


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    Default Re: FAQ: What should you expect as your bulldog becomes a senior?

    I have lost two bulldogs to old age and, while painful, I also got to see them transform through all stages of their lives.

    Of course, the big thing I noticed was weight loss. Especially in my bulldog, Linus, who was a robust 78-81 pounds his whole life. In his older age, he was down to about 71 and had reduced muscle tone. He still played and got around fine but he just wasn't as vigorous and big as he used to be.

    I also called the vet on this one but both of my older bullies had callouses on their elbows from a lifetime of sitting on them I guess! It depends how your bully sleeps and sits but both of mine had rough elbows in older age.

    The joints were creakier, which required supplements and the occassional Rimadyl and I also noticed a bit of a reduced appetite - most likely due to not being as active as they once were.

    I also noticed an increase in health issues. In older age, both of my bulldogs had allergy flare ups that had previously never been an issue and Linus had a scratched cornea that would not heal as it might have if he were a younger dog.

    Finally, I noticed the coat wasn't as beautiful in old age. But maybe it was just beautiful in a different way. Maybe a bit more dull, maybe a bit less full but reflective of a lifetime of love and happiness!

    "I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive."
    Bentley (5.24.04 - 6.26.10) & Linus (1.10.06 - 7.31.13)

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    Default Re: FAQ: What should you expect as your bulldog becomes a senior?

    I would think that dogs would have the same issues as humans do as they age. Things like Arthritis, sore joints, and muscles, and slowing down. When my Jack Russell got old, ( she was 14 years old), she had a harder time climbing up and down the stairs. They would have greying of the fur, it usually shows around the face and muzzle. You can see changes in their eyes, with the whites turning bluish, or cloudy, and they can start to develop cataracts and have poor eyesight. They can have changes in their nails, which can be more brittle, and their hair can get thinner. They can develop dental and gum disease, teeth may start to fall out, and they may develop bad breath due to gum disease. They can get lumps and bumps, and fatty deposits or cyst like growths of the skin, and be more susceptible to cancers. They are also at a higher risk for heart disease and congestive heart problems. They may have a loss of appetite, and eat less than they did before, they can have weight gain, due to less movement and less exercise. They can have sleep problems, like sleeping longer and more than before, or having sleeplessness. They may need more frequent potty breaks, or need to go out at night, as they can have loss of bladder or bowels, and may also start having accidents in the house, which they never did before. They can also start to show changes in behaviour, or develop anxiety, they can be less tolerant to being touched, strangers, or kids. This can be due to not being able to see or hear as well, and this can cause them to be startled.
    LEARN A LESSON FROM YOUR DOG, NO MATTER WHAT LIFE BRINGS YOU, KICK SOME GRASS OVER THAT AND MOVE ON.

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    Default Re: FAQ: What should you expect as your bulldog becomes a senior?

    On a sIightIy different note why are there no senior benefits for pets or is there

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    Default Re: FAQ: What should you expect as your bulldog becomes a senior?

    Molly and Vegas are the same age....and I've never once thought to consider him a senior bulldog. Vegas wakes up stiff....but only since his fall down the stairs. I've never thought of him as getting older in that sense. But...the x-rays show advanced arthritis in his front left elbow. Never once did he let on until he fell. Everything else is good with him. I have noticed his mask is no more...he is lightening up in the face. Some would call it graying.

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    Default Re: FAQ: What should you expect as your bulldog becomes a senior?

    Hank is a bit grey in the face these days. Our new guy Ta-hank is 9 or 10 yrs. His shoulders and knees are to bad to be properly repaired from having been severely overweight for his frame for too long.(PLEASE Don't let these babies get overweight. Their joints can't take it.)
    He has KCS( "dry-eye")We aren't sure that his hearing is intact. We lost our Daisy in June at 14 yrs to congestive heart failure. We had adopted her at 11yrs. She was already a bit stiff in her gait and set in her ways. She needed more trips outside to potty and we kept a pee pad in our room in the end days. She paced the floor at night. Her last couple days she wouldn't eat much.

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    Default Re: FAQ: What should you expect as your bulldog becomes a senior?

    hey all, I have an 11 year Old named Sarge. He has been dealing with a host of health issues, but I'm especially concerned about elimination. Sarge has (save for one spell where he was getting some separation anxiety every time i walked out the door) been great about holding it- I normally try to make sure he gets outside every 5-8 hours, but he has in some tight spots held it in for up to 10 or 11 hours. Lately, he has failed to even notify me when he has urges to go (like he always has done before), I'm having to leash him in the apartment and pull him out rather than holding up treats (he always responded to that before) and I'm having to set alarms to remind me to walk him since he fails to notify. Given the different elevator banks we take, the lack of dogs on the floor of my building and his previous track record of not eliminating until we get to the tree outside my building, i don't suspect its a marking territory issue. Any advice on whether his is a common case, or if he needs more potty trips (which I'm not sure he can manage given his arthritis), or whatever would be greatly appreciated.

    2 more things: I have tried lowering his sodium intake and limiting his water to see if it helps and it hasn't. also- he has spent the past year or so with my grandfather in florida, and has had year round access to a doggie door in the lanai, but due to changes in my grandfathers health is now back living apartment life in NYC (in the same apartment, with the same people, etc.).

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    Default Re: FAQ: What should you expect as your bulldog becomes a senior?

    Normal Aging and Expected Changes in Older (Senior, Geriatric) Dogs
    Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
    We expect certain changes to occur in an animal's body as the animal ages. These changes may not be the same in each animal species. In some animals (e.g.; toy breeds of dogs) changes in the heart are common, whereas in other animals (cats), the kidneys may be one of the first organs to show signs of aging. We can help older animals to adapt to these changes in a variety of ways: diagnosing problems early, use of appropriate medications and supplements, modifying the dog's environment, and changing the way in which we interact with our older friends.Change in nutritional needs and weight changes
    As dogs age, their metabolism changes and their need for calories decreases. In general, their maintenance energy requirement decreases by about 20%. Because their activity usually decreases as well, their energy needs are decreased by another 10-20%. If we feed older dogs the same amount we fed them when they were young, they will gain weight. As the body's metabolism changes, it is more common for the body to lay down fat. This tendency can also contribute to obesity in older dogs. Obesity is one of the main health problems of older dogs. In addition to calories, there are other nutritional needs of older dogs, including an increase in fiber and a decrease in fat. Especially if an older dog is not eating as he should, or has certain medical conditions, supplements are often recommended.
    Skin and hair coat changes
    As with people, older dogs may start to show gray hair; this most commonly occurs on the muzzle and around the eyes. The haircoat may become thinner and duller, however, this can also be a sign of disease or nutritional deficiency. Fatty acid supplements may help restore some of the luster to the coat. If the haircoat of an older dog changes significantly, the dog should be checked by a veterinarian. Older dogs may need to be groomed more often, with special attention given to the anal area. Grooming is a great way for you to spend some enjoyable time with your older dog. He will love the attention.
    The skin of the older dog may become thinner, and thus more subject to injury. Some older dogs develop multiple benign tumors of the skin, which are generally not removed unless easily traumatized. Cancerous tumors of the skin can also occur. Dry skin can be a problem for older dogs, and again, fatty acid supplements may be beneficial.
    Calluses
    It is common for older, large breed dogs to develop calluses on their elbows. Part of the reason for this is the tendency of older dogs to be less active and lay down more. Especially if they lay down on hard surfaces, calluses are likely to develop. Providing a dog bed, especially an orthopedic bed, can help prevent calluses.
    Brittle nails and thickened foot pads
    Just as we see changes in the haircoat, we can also see thickening of the foot pads and changes in the nails of older dogs. They may tend to become brittle. Care must be taken in clipping the nails of older dogs, and they may need to be clipped more often, since older inactive dogs are less likely to wear their nails down through activity.
    Decreased mobility and arthritis

    Arthritis is a common occurrence in older dogs, especially large breed dogs and breeds which have a tendency to have intervertebral (IV) disc diseasesuch as Dachshunds and Bassets. Dogs who injured joints earlier in their life also have a tendency to develop arthritis as they age. As in people, arthritis in dogs may only cause a slight stiffness, or it can become debilitating. Dogs may have difficulty going up and down stairs, jumping into the car, or walking through snow.
    Chondroitin and glucosamine can be beneficial to support healthy joints. Some anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as aspirin and Rimadyl are often recommended for dogs with arthritis. (Do NOT give your cat any type of pain reliever unless prescribed by your veterinarian.)
    As with muscles in people (if you do not use them, you lose them), older dogs who are inactive will lose muscle mass and tone. This may make it more difficult for them to move, so they move less, etc., and a vicious cycle starts. Exercise for an older dog is important for the health of the muscles, as well as the heart, digestive system, and attitude. Exercise routines can be adapted according to the dog's abilities. Swimming and several short walks a day may help maintain and strengthen the dog's muscles.
    Ramps, elevated feeders, and orthopedic beds may help a dog who has decreased mobility or pain on movement.
    Dental disease
    Dental disease is the most common change we see in older dogs. Studies show that even by age three, 80 percent of dogs exhibit signs of gum disease. Routine dental care including toothbrushing, can help keep dental disease to a minimum. Dogs who have not received proper dental care can develop significant dental disease as they age and may develop life-threatening complications. A dental care program should consist of toothbrushing, regular dental checkups, and professional cleaning as needed.
    Decreased gastrointestinal motility (constipation)
    As dogs age, the movement of food through their digestive tracts slows. This can result in constipation. Constipation is more common in dogs who may experience pain while defecating such as those with hip dysplasia or anal gland disease. Inactivity can also contribute to constipation. Constipation can also be a sign of some serious disease conditions, and a dog experiencing constipation should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Laxatives or diets containing increased fiber may be prescribed. It is important these dogs drink plenty of water.
    Some older dogs may also be more prone to stomach upsets.
    Decreased ability to fight off disease
    As a dog ages, the immune system does not function as effectively and the older dog is more prone to develop infectious diseases; and the infection in an older dog is usually more severe than a similar one in a younger dog. It is important to keep your older dog current on vaccinations.
    Decreased heart function
    As a dog's heart ages, it loses some efficiency and can not pump as much blood in a given amount of time. The valves of the heart lose some of their elasticity and also contribute to a decreased pumping efficiency. The most common valve involved is the mitral valve, especially in small breeds. Some of these heart changes are expected, however, more severe changes can occur, especially in dogs who had minor heart problems when they were young. Diagnostic tests such as radiographs (x-rays), an electrocardiogram (EKG), and an echocardiogram can be used to diagnose heart disease. Various medications are available depending upon the type and severity of disease.
    Lung capacity decreased
    Lungs also lose their elasticity during the aging process, and the ability of the lungs to oxygenate the blood may be decreased. Older dogs may be more prone to respiratory infections, and may tire more easily.
    Decrease in kidney function
    As animals age, the risk of kidney disease increases. This may be due to changes in the kidney itself or result from the dysfunction of other organs such as the heart, which if not functioning properly, will decrease blood flow to the kidneys. Kidney function can be measured through chemistry tests on the blood and a urinalysis. These tests can identify a kidney problem well before there are any physical signs of disease. The most frequent sign of kidney disease first noted by an owner would be an increase in water consumption and urination, but this generally does not occur until about 70% of the kidney function is lost.
    If the kidneys are not functioning normally, the diet and dose of various medications and anesthetics may need to be changed to assist the body in getting rid of the breakdown products. Pre-anesthetic blood tests are recommended to identify any potential kidney problems before anesthesia is administered.
    Urinary incontinence and loss of housetraining
    Urinary incontinence is involuntary or uncontrollable leaking of urine from the bladder. In older dogs, especially spayed females, small quantities of urine may leak from the urethra while the dog is resting or sleeping. Treatment for incontinence is usually not difficult. Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) and estrogens, such as diethylstilbestrol, are commonly used.
    Some older dogs who have been housetrained for years, may start having 'accidents.' As with other behavior problems in older dogs, there may be multiple causes for this change in behavior. Any older dog with a house soiling problem should be examined by a veterinarian and the owner should be able to give a detailed history of the color and amount of urine (or stool) passed, the frequency at which the dog needs to eliminate, changes in eating or drinking habits, the dog's posture while eliminating, and whether the 'accidents' only occur when the owner is gone. Medical conditions contributing to the house soiling problem should be treated appropriately.
    Prostate enlargement
    When an unneutered male dog reaches 8 years of age, he has a greater than 80% chance of developing prostate disease, but it is rarely cancerous. In most cases, the prostate just enlarges. The prostate enlargement, however, can cause problems with urination or defecation. Older male dogs, especially those who are not neutered should have their prostate gland checked as part of the regular physical exam. The risk of prostate disease can be greatly reduced if the dog is neutered.
    Decreased liver function
    Although the liver has an incredible and unique way of regenerating itself when injured, the liver does age just like all other organs in the body. Its ability to detoxify the blood and produce numerous enzymes and proteins gradually decreases with age. Sometimes, the liver enzymes measured in a chemistry panel may be abnormally elevated in an apparently normal animal. On the other hand, some animals with liver disease have normal levels of liver enzymes circulating in their blood. This makes interpretation of these tests very difficult.
    Because the liver metabolizes many medications and anesthetics, the dose of these drugs must be decreased if the liver is not functioning as it should. Pre-anesthetic blood tests are also recommended to identify any potential liver problems before anesthesia is administered.
    Changes in glandular function
    Some glands tend to produce less hormones as they age, and other glands may produce more such as in Cushing's Disease. Hormonal problems are a common disorder in many older dogs, and the propensity to develop a problem is sometimes linked to breed. The Golden Retriever, for example, has a much greater risk of developing hypothyroidism. Blood tests help to diagnose these diseases and many of them are treatable with medications.
    Changes in mammary glands
    Female dogs may develop some hardening of the mammary glands due to the infiltration of fibrous tissue. Breast cancer in unspayed dogs is common, just as common as it is in humans. Mammary cancer is the single most common tumor of the female dog, and also the most common malignant one. Older female dogs should have their mammary glands checked as part of the regular physical exam.
    Bone marrow replaced by fat
    Earlier, we discussed the tendency of older dogs to lay down more fat. Fat may also infiltrate the bone marrow. The bone marrow is responsible for making red blood cells, which carry oxygen, white blood cells that fight disease, and platelets, which help the blood to clot. If the bone marrow is significantly replaced by fat, anemia can develop. This is one of the reasons it is recommended that older dogs have certain blood tests such as a complete blood count (CBC)performed as part of their annual exam.
    Changes in activity level and behavior
    Senior dogs may show a decreased activity level. This may be due to normal aging or be the first sign of a disease condition such as arthritis or senility. Regular veterinary exams every 6 months and monitoring your dog for other symptoms of disease will help distinguish normal aging from disease.
    As animals age, nerve cells die off and are not replaced. In some cases, certain proteins can start to surround nerve cells and cause them to malfunction. The communication between nerve cells may also be altered. For some dogs, the changes in the nervous system are severe enough to change their behavior. If certain signs are present, we call this behavior change 'cognitive dysfunction.' According to Pfizer Pharmaceutical, the manufacturer of Anipryl, a drug to treat canine cognitive dysfunction, 62% of dogs age 10 years and older will experience at least some of the symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction. These include confusion or disorientation, restlessness at night, loss of housetraining abilities, decreased activity level, decreased attentiveness, and not recognizing friends or family members.
    Older dogs have a decreased ability to cope with stress, and this can result in behavior changes. Separation anxiety, aggression, noise phobias, and increased vocalization can develop or worsen in older dogs. Various medications combined with behavior modification techniques can help solve some of these behavior problems.
    Since older dogs do not handle stress well, getting a new puppy when you have an older dog who is showing signs of aging may not be the best idea. It is usualy best to get a new puppy when the older dog is still mobile (can get away from the puppy), relatively pain free, is not experiencing cognitive dysfunction, and has good hearing and vision.
    Increased sensitivity to temperature changes
    As dogs age, their ability to regulate their body temperature decreases. This means they are less adaptable to temperature changes. Dogs who could handle cold temperatures when they were young, may not be able to as they age. Monitoring the environmental temperature around your dog, and making adjustments will help your older dog be more comfortable. You may need to move his bed closer to a heat register, or keep him indoors during hot weather.
    Hearing loss
    Some dogs will experience hearing loss as they age. Slight hearing loss is hard to evaluate in dogs. Often hearing loss is severe before the owner becomes aware of the problem. The first sign noticed may look like aggression. In reality, it may be the dog was unaware of a person's approach, became startled when touched, and instinctively reacted. Owners may also report the dog is no longer obeying commands (the dog no longer hears them).
    The hearing loss generally can not be reversed, but some changes in interaction with the dog can help reduce the effects. One of the reasons to teach dogs hand signals for various commands while they are young, is that these hand signals are very useful if the dog develops hearing loss. The use of lights to signal dogs (e.g.; flashing the yard light when you want the dog to come in from outside) can be useful. Dogs with hearing loss can still sense vibration, so clapping hands or stomping on the floor may alert the dog you are trying to communicate with him.
    Changes in the eye and vision loss
    Many dogs develop a condition of the eye called nuclear sclerosis. In this condition, the lens of the eye appears cloudy, however, the dog can usually see quite well. Many owners are concerned their dog has cataracts (which do affect vision) when the dog really has nuclear sclerosis. Cataracts are common in older dogs of certain breeds, though, as is glaucoma. Any sudden changes in vision or appearance of the eyes could signal an emergency; contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Ophthalmic exams should be part of the physical exam in older dogs.
    Summary
    Older dogs can experience many changes in the functions of their bodies. Some dogs may have more pronounced changes than others, and in some dogs, the changes may start to occur at a younger age. Knowing what changes to expect can help you and your dog adjust to them when and if they do come. There are many ways we can help the older dog adapt to these changes.
    You will need to monitor your older dog more closely. Do not disregard a change in your dog's activity or behavior as 'just being old age.' Many of the changes can also be signs of a more serious disease. If you are in doubt, consult your veterinarian and be sure to discuss with her/him any concerns you have about your older dog during his regular physical exam.
    LEARN A LESSON FROM YOUR DOG, NO MATTER WHAT LIFE BRINGS YOU, KICK SOME GRASS OVER THAT AND MOVE ON.

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    Default Re: FAQ: What should you expect as your bulldog becomes a senior?

    My Precious is 12 years old. Although she does have arthritis and some allergies by looking at her you would never think she is 12. I watch her so carefully and on the days she cannot do the steps to outside I lift her down. Anyone have any signs of any disease or anything else I should watch for? I do notice she sleeps ALOT, like all day and night. Except to get up and eat n drink and go out. Thank you so much.

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    Default Re: FAQ: What should you expect as your bulldog becomes a senior?

    Quote Originally Posted by Precious12 View Post
    My Precious is 12 years old. Although she does have arthritis and some allergies by looking at her you would never think she is 12. I watch her so carefully and on the days she cannot do the steps to outside I lift her down. Anyone have any signs of any disease or anything else I should watch for? I do notice she sleeps ALOT, like all day and night. Except to get up and eat n drink and go out. Thank you so much.
    12... that is great! @oscarmayer @nataski @Manydogs any insight?


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    Default Re: FAQ: What should you expect as your bulldog becomes a senior?

    Sounds like she is doing well. Most grown older dogs sleep most of the day,and night. Mine are 9,6,5,4,1 1/2. and they sleep alot. As long as she does not develop a cough, or
    hold fluid,( which could be congestive heart failure) aside from sickness, she should do well. A probiotic, and joint supplement would be a good thing. One I believe for joints is called Movoflex, and one is Dasaquin. I assume you are treating her allergies. Sounds like she is doing well for her age! @Precious12
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    “It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough,all the components of my heart will be dog,and I will become as generous and loving as they are"

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