Just like your children, your pets grow up too fast. One minute they’re puppies filled with energy and the next, they are showing gray hair and have trouble getting around the house. We know that these changes can be heartbreaking at times. Because your furry friends can’t verbally express to you what’s wrong, it’s important that you are aware of any behavioral changes they may exhibit. If you have a senior dog, be on the lookout for the following changes in behavior.
1. Increased barking or noise
Stress in older dogs may cause more vocalization like barking, howling, or whining. This may occur as a result of separation anxiety, a means to gain attention, or because of cognitive disfunction. It is best to find out the cause of increased vocalization and medication can be given if appropriate. If your dog is vocalizing in order to gain attention he should be ignored. You may also want to set aside more one on one time with your dog.
Senior dogs may become aggressive for several reasons. They may be in pain from arthritis or dental disease, vision or hearing loss which may result in your dog becoming easily startled, decreased mobility could inhibit him from leaving an irritating situation, or he may have another disease that hinders cognitive function. By figuring out which factors are causing the extra aggression, we can attempt to reduce or eliminate them.
3. Separation anxiety
Separation anxiety is one of the most common behavioral issues in senior dogs. A dog who suffers from separation anxiety becomes extremely anxious when his or her owner is about to leave. After the owner leaves, the dog will start to bark, howl, may become destructive, may urinate or defecate, and may salivate profusely. A dog with separation anxiety will also become over excited with the return of his or her owner. Senior dogs have a harder time adjusting to change in routine, especially if they are separated from their owner.
4. Noise phobias
Along with stress and anxiety, older dogs may become more sensitive to noise. You may think this would be the opposite since older dogs often acquire hearing loss. However, the following factors actually contribute to noise phobia:
- the inability of the dog to remove himself from the source of the noise.
- cognitive disfunction.
- reduced ability to manage stress.
Again, you should try to identify the source of the noise phobia and treat accordingly. The source of the noise may be something we can hear like thunderstorms, or it may be something more high pitched that we can’t hear. Treatments for noise phobias can include counterconditioning, desensitization, and medication.
When your dog begins to age, you may notice changes in his physical and emotional demeanors. By being mindful of your senior dog’s behavioral changes, you’ll be able to take action to provide them with a comfortable and fulfilling life during their later years. To learn more about helping your dog age gracefully, download our free eBook by clicking the image below.