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When Is My Dog Considered A Senior?

When Is My Dog Considered A Senior?

Today our Redding vets share information about when a dog is considered senior, how to spot signs of aging, and the special care requirements that your aging pooch may need.

When Is A Dog Considered A Senior?

You've probably heard that one human year equals seven dog years—but it's not quite that simple. That's because individual dog breeds age at different paces than others.

In general, smaller dogs do not age as quickly as large breed dogs. Here is a general guide:

Small breeds are considered senior dogs around 10-12 years old.

Medium breeds are considered senior dogs around 8-9 years old.

Large and giant breeds are considered senior dogs around 6-7 years old.

Signs That Your Dog Is Aging

As your dog gets older, it'll likely start to exhibit both physical and mental changes. While some of these changes are the natural progression of aging (like greying hair around their muzzle) and do not require any specific vet care, other changes may need veterinary attention to ensure your pup maintains their comfort into their old age.

Some signs that your dog is getting on in years include:

  • Weight gain or loss
  • White or grey hairs on the muzzle and face 
  • Worsening hearing and/or vision
  • Sleeping more or difficulty sleeping
  • Mental dullness
  • Gum disease or tooth loss
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Arthritis and joint issues
  • Reduced liver, kidney, and heart function

Helping Senior Dogs As They Get Older

There are several things you can do to help your dog maintain their comfort and well-being as they age.

Vet Care

The first step to caring for a senior pup is to prioritize regular vet visits. By taking your senior dog for routine wellness exams, you're allowing your vet to screen for any emerging geriatric conditions and begin treatment as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will also assess your senior dog's nutrition and mobility and make recommendations for diet or exercise adjustments that may benefit your dog.

Nutrition

As your dog gets older, it's likely that their nutritional needs will change, especially as they slow down and exercise less, making them more prone to weight gain. Excess weight in older dogs can cause health issues like joint pain and cardiovascular conditions. Speak to your vet about adjusting your dog's daily calorie intake or switching to a food that is specifically formulated for weight loss.

There are also many dog foods for senior pets that target the various health conditions that older canines can experience. Speak with your vet to see if they recommend a specific diet or supplement for your pup.

Besides the physical benefits of a good diet, proper nutrition may be able to help your dog maintain their cognitive function as they age. Dogs, just like humans, can suffer from dementia or Alzheimers-like conditions. Feeding your dog that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, along with providing them with proper exercise, may help them maintain mental alertness.

Physical & Mental Exercise

As your dog ages, it must keep up with a regular schedule of physical activity. Regular exercise helps dogs maintain a healthy weight and keeps their joints healthy. However, you may have to adjust the forms of exercise you are providing for your pup. For example, if you notice your dog is having difficulty with the long walks they once loved, try taking your dog for more frequent walks that are shorter in duration.

Along with regular physical exercise, it is very important to remember that they require mental stimulation too! It's never too late to teach your pup a new trick or bring home a new puzzle. There are lots of options for problem-solving activities for dogs. For example, a puzzle feeder that makes your dog work to figure out their kibble or treats can be a fun way for your pup to snack while keeping their minds agile.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always consult with a vet before making medical decisions for your pet.

Today our Redding vets share information about when a dog is considered senior, how to spot signs of aging, and the special care requirements that your aging pooch may need.

When Is A Dog Considered A Senior?

You've probably heard that one human year equals seven dog years—but it's not quite that simple. That's because individual dog breeds age at different paces than others.

In general, smaller dogs do not age as quickly as large breed dogs. Here is a general guide:

Small breeds are considered senior dogs around 10-12 years old.

Medium breeds are considered senior dogs around 8-9 years old.

Large and giant breeds are considered senior dogs around 6-7 years old.

Signs That Your Dog Is Aging

As your dog gets older, they'll likely start to exhibit both physical and mental changes. While some of these changes are the natural progression of aging (like greying hair around their muzzle) and do not require any specific vet care, other changes may need veterinary attention to ensure your pup maintains their comfort into their old age.

Some signs that your dog is getting on in years include:

  • Weight gain or loss
  • White or grey hairs on the muzzle and face 
  • Worsening hearing and/or vision
  • Sleeping more or difficulty sleeping
  • Mental dullness
  • Gum disease or tooth loss
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Arthritis and joint issues
  • Reduced liver, kidney, and heart function

Helping Senior Dogs As They Get Older

There are several things you can do to help your dog maintain their comfort and well-being as they age.

Vet Care

The first step to caring for a senior pup is to prioritize regular vet visits. By taking your senior dog for routine wellness exams, you're allowing your vet to screen for any emerging geriatric conditions and begin treatment as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will also assess your senior dog's nutrition and mobility and make recommendations for diet or exercise adjustments that may benefit your dog.

Nutrition

As your dog gets older, it's likely that their nutritional needs will change, especially as they slow down and exercise less, making them more prone to weight gain. Excess weight in older dogs can cause health issues like joint pain and cardiovascular conditions. Speak to your vet about adjusting your dog's daily calorie intake or switching to a food that is specifically formulated for weight loss.

There are also many dog foods for senior pets that target the various health conditions that older canines can experience. Speak with your vet to see if they recommend a specific diet or supplement for your pup.

Besides the physical benefits of a good diet, proper nutrition may be able to help your dog maintain their cognitive function as they age. Dogs, just like humans, can suffer from dementia or Alzheimers-like conditions. Feeding your dog that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, along with providing them with proper exercise, may help them maintain mental alertness.

Physical & Mental Exercise

As your dog ages, they must keep up with a regular schedule of physical activity. Regular exercise helps dogs maintain a healthy weight and keeps their joints healthy. However, you may have to adjust the forms of exercise you are providing for your pup. For example, if you notice your dog is having difficulty with the long walks they once loved, try taking your dog for more frequent walks that are shorter in duration.

Along with regular physical exercise, it is very important to remember that they require mental stimulation too! It's never too late to teach your pup a new trick or bring home a new puzzle. There are lots of options for problem-solving activities for dogs. For example, a puzzle feeder that makes your dog work to figure out their kibble or treats can be a fun way for your pup to snack while keeping their minds agile.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always consult with a vet before making medical decisions for your pet.

Is it time for your senior dog's wellness exam? Contact Dana Park Veterinary Hospital today to book an appointment for your pup.

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Dana Park Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Redding companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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