Gaining excess pounds is all too common in older dogs. So is unintended weight loss. Neither is good for your pet, especially in his advancing years. That’s why monitoring your dog’s weight is of key importance as he ages. Too many pounds can exacerbate heart disease and arthritis and can cause problems, too- diabetes, back pain, and other orthopedic ills. It can also bring on arthritis where there had never been any. In addition, excess weight on a dog can make anesthesia riskier, especially if the dog is very obese – an important point because anesthesia is more likely something a dog is going to need in his later years. Excess weight can even shorten a dog’s life – significantly- as we explained in Chapter 1.
A loss of too much weight is just as concerning, because it can harbinger creeping frailty. And just as with people, a frail, weak old dog is more likely to fall ill – and to succumb to whatever illness befalls him. Think of how a hale, robust older person seems much younger than his actual age, whereas “birdlike” older people often seem as though there’s not too much time left before they give out.
Too thin – or too heavy – is so important when it comes to dogs that veterinarians don’t even call their proper weight “ideal” or “healthy” body weight, as doctors do for people, but rather “optimal body condition.”
Why is it not as easy for older dogs to keep their weight stable and thus maintain proper body condition? And what can be done to stop a slide in either direction?
For expert advice on health care of your aging dog, purchase The Faculty of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University’s Good Old Dog from Your Dog.