QUESTION: What changes will I see in my older Bolognese?
ANSWER: Not all dogs show signs of aging at the same age. Bolognese, being a small breed, may not show signs until 10-years or older. The breed does tend to look good for longer, compared to other breeds, due to the white coat not showing grey. However you may see a loss of pigment in the nose as time goes by and a little more staining on the face and feet.
You will probably first notice less activity, more sleeping and less interest in play. Sight, hearing and smell may also reduce as time goes on. Further into old age your Bolognese could develop some memory loss and confusion. Older dogs do not cope well with changes of routine, may develop separation anxiety and have a few more accidents in the home. Regular vet check ups are important with an older dog as there could be treatments to help make them feel more comfortable.
An older Bolognese may be less keen on being groomed, nails being cut, ears being plucked and other grooming procedures. Nails harden in older dogs, the coat could change in texture, and there may be warts and lumps on the body. Look out for pain from arthritis, toothache and ear inflammation. Regular baths in a gentle shampoo will help to keep an older dog’s skin and coat healthy and they will feel better for it too. Keep an eye on the eyes which could be a little stickier and need regular bathing to keep them healthy.
Home comforts and space of their own
Due to a gradual loss of hearing, older dogs can be startled by sudden noise and also may be less likely to respond to commands. Give your older Bolognese a comfortable area to sleep and ask visitors not to startle your dog as he may be less tolerant as he gets older. Cool mats can help in hot weather and cosy bedding and heat pads in winter.
Regular gentle exercise can help to prevent muscle stiffness. Short regular walks may help with the older dogs’ bowels and bladder as they do sometimes need to go more regularly. Older dogs can suffer from constipation and male dogs could need to pass urine often due to an enlarged prostate gland.
Changes to an older dog’s metabolism and being less active means they are prone to weight gain. Extra weight can put pressure on the heart leading to heart disease and also will not help with arthritis in older joints. Gentle exercise and a reduction in food should do the job. Older dogs tend to drink more water and a check up with the vet will look for kidney disease or diabetes. Due to a loss of teeth, soft food will be the best option. Fresh drinking water should be available at all times and some dogs prefer to drink from a water fountain.
Regular worming and vaccinations should be accompanied by veterinary checkups for older dogs. Common health issues to be aware of are Arthritis, Dental Disease, Heart Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Kidney Disease, lumps & bumps and Dementia. Your vet will be able to examine your Bolognese and, along with the history you give, will be able to diagnose these common conditions and make your dog more comfortable.
What to look for
Look out for stiffness, lameness, smelly breath, salivation, panting, coughing, restlessness at night, excessive drinking, poor appetite and weight loss and seek veterinary advice if you are worried.
Enjoy your time with your older dog, they will be less independent and need your time and love even more.
You may be interested in a previous Q & A QUESTION: How Can I Keep my Bolognese Teeth Clean? click the link to access this helpful information.