In dogs, as in people, the medical implications of true aging are difficult
to understand.  During the life span, pets undergo a variety of physical
and metabolic changes that may cause them discomfort and/or change
their behavior.  For example, the acuity of the senses - sight, hearing,
taste and smell - are reduced, metabolism slows, immunocompetence
decreases and tissues become dehydrated.  Muscle and bone mass
decline, and arthritis may affect the joints.  There can be renal and
hepatic disorders also.
The brain undergoes a series of changes that result in cognitive decline.  
It is generally believed and studies have shown that a dog’s cognitive
ability tends to decline with age just as it does in humans.  

Many animals develop behavioral problems as they age such as
inappropriate urination and/or defecation, aggression, and senility.  
Sometimes hearing loss can actually be a sign of mental changes and not
truly a hearing problem.  Many animals are put to sleep every year
because of behavioral problems.  Many of these "problems" could have
been solved with a little time and effort.  Some behavior problems are
manifestations of systemic or neurological disease and can be treated by
diagnosing the primary disease.

Some of the diseases that cause cognitive dysfunction can be managed
with dietary changes and medications. However, sometimes, there is a
neurological problem that must be addressed. Fortunately, their are
neurologists here in Dallas who specialize in small animals and the
problems common to them.  The doctors will, of course, perform a
thorough exam to ensure that you actually need to be referred to a
neurologist.  However, if your pet should ever need to be referred, the
neurosurgeons are able to perform many advanced tests including MRIs
and  CTs, as well as performing spinal implants and surgeries.  Even
brain surgeries are within their realm of expertise!  

Veterinarians and other animal health professionals work very hard to
educate you, the owner.  Some people are simply unaware of many
aspects of animal care.  If you have any questions or concerns,
please feel free to contact us via
or phone (972-722-0066).
If you are interested in health insurance for your loved one, the American Veterinary Medical Association
recommends Veterinary Pet Insurance.  You can also call 800-USA-PETS.

1001 North W.E. Crawford
Rockwall, Texas 75087
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