Old Dogs


There is a biologic watch that measures the life of different species. This watch goes faster as dogs are concerned. So we could estimate that the average life is 12-14 years in small sized dogs and 10-11 in big and giant sized dogs.

Of course, there are many aspects that determine the time of life for an animal. Firstly, the genetic code, the kind of food, the care given by the owners, the lifestyle, etc.

It is true that everyday, we find animals with the typical age diseases, that are in terminal states or completely unbalanced, and that could have been detected before (cataracts, diabetes, arthrosis, heart, hepatic or renal disorders).

It is demonstrated that there are some metabolic and physiopathologic effects associated to ageing:

  • Decrease of the metabolic rate with less activity and a decrease of the 30% or 40% of the caloric needs.
  • Immunodeficiency, in spite of the normal number of lymphocytes.
  • Presentation of self-immune diseases.
  • Increase of the muscular, bone and joint mass with the development of arthritis.
  • Hyper-pigmentation, increase and lost of elasticity of the skin.
  • Tartar, periodontitis, gum or hyperplasy atrophy or lost of teeth.
  • Atrophy and fibrosis of the gastric mucus.
  • Development of hepatic fibrosis.
  • Decrease of the secretion of pancreatic enzymes.
  • Decrease of the respiratory capacity.
  • Atrophy of the renal bier.
  • Development of urinary incontinency.
  • In males, increase of the prostate, testicular atrophy and pendulous foreskin.
  • In females, increase of the ovaries, fibro cysts, and mama tumours.
  • Decrease of the cardiac effort and development of valve fibrosis.
  • Accumulation of fat and hypoplasia of bone marrow and development of non-regenerative anaemia.
  • Decrease of the number of cells of the nerves system and lost of training

As we can see, all the organic systems get affected by the pass of time and the only thing we can do against this is to adopt measures based on nutritional, hygienic, medicines or surgical treatments that help the animal to have a good quality of life. So it is fundamental an aspect that is forgotten in veterinary that is the preventive medicine. This is why we recommended all the small sized dogs older than 8, and big sized ones older than 6, with geriatric checkups at least once a year.

These checkups will include an exhaustive analysis about alimentation, life habits, previous diseases, etc. A complete physical exploration of the skin, eyes, ears, mouth, muscles, and bones; neurological exams, auscultation, electrocardiogram, analysis of the cells of the blood and biochemistry, analysis of urine and dregs and thorax x-rays. Although these tests could be extended to hormones tests, heart and abdomen ecographies, serologies and biopsies of any tissue. All these tests could help us to early diagnose some of the diseases, that caught in time and properly treated, can give a good quality of life to our pet.

Let’s imagine a 9-year-old Alsatian that comes into the consulting room because it hardly walks lately, drinks much, and has loss of urine. After making some tests, we could see that it has a very serious arthrosis in the hips and last lumbar vertebras, it presents obesity, a hyper-adronocorticism and a handball-ball-sized prostate tumour. Now it is so expensive for the owner to treat the animal, and the prediction and the hope of a good quality of life for the animal is dark. Possibly, if it had had a geriatric check up some time before, he would have been recommended a diet and some medicines to control its hormonal diseases and arthrosis, and if the tumour had been detected, it would have been operated. This is a real case that we had few days ago, and it is just one of so many that makes us think carefully about the need to make geriatric checkups more often.

Av. Costa Cálida Nº 31 - CP 30860 Puerto de Mazarrón (Murcia)