Your small but feisty cairn terrier has bravely faced life's challenges, and his small size delays his senior years until the age of 10 to 13, according to the American Animal Hospital Association. As with any breed, the cairn terrier is prone to certain health issues as he ages.
Reduce Vision-Related Accidents
Many breeds experience poor vision with age, but according to the Cairn Terrier Club of America, the cairn terrier is the only breed known to contract secondary glaucoma, often between the ages of 7 and 12. Cairn terriers can also develop cataracts, making it difficult for this tiny pup to navigate his way around the house, especially if you frequently rearrange the furniture. Leave a night-light in the evening so he can find his way in the dark. Due to his small size and potential loss of vision, it's important to have your cairn's eyes regularly examined by the vet.
Ease Dental Pain
Small dogs like the cairn terrier have particularly crowded teeth, which increases their risk for periodontal disease with age. Infected gums and teeth can lead to abscesses and severe pain for your little one, which is why you should consult your vet about regular tooth cleaning. Once his teeth are professionally cleaned, or extracted if necessary, keep your aging pooch's teeth clean with daily brushing and dog-formulated toothpaste. You can also ease the soreness in his mouth by feeding him small-sized dog kibble that's easier to chew.
Older dogs, much like older humans, are especially prone to aches and pains. In his younger years, your cairn may have loved jumping on the sofa or bed for a leisurely nap, but age-related soreness and arthritis now force him to sleep on the floor. Arrange a pile of old blankets or towels in each room so he doesn't have to walk far to find a comfortable resting place. You can also ease his discomfort by feeding him glucosamine supplements, which can reduce his stiffness by lubricating his joints.
More Bathroom Breaks
Your little guy no longer happily trots along on 20-minute walks, but his increasing age makes him more susceptible to incontinence. Certain foods or brands of food he previously tolerated may cause stomach upset and soft stools. Take him out, or arrange for someone else to take him out, every four or five hours, instead of making him hold it the entire time you're at work. Constantly dribbling urine or fecal incontinence can indicate something more serious and require immediate veterinary attention.
Being only a few inches off the ground and having an aging endocrine system can leave your cairn terrier particularly sensitive to cold temperatures. He may shiver or try to warm up against the radiator, space heater or other unsafe heat sources that could burn his skin. Combat his chilliness when the temperature becomes mildly cool by dressing him in a small sweater indoors and adding a coat when he goes outdoors.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.