At what age is a dog considered a senior? How can an attentive dog parent spot signs of aging? What special care needs does your aging dog have? Our Lafayette vets answer these questions in today's post.
How old is a senior dog?
You may have heard that one human year is like seven dog years, but figuring out a dog's age is not that straightforward. Different dog breeds age at different rates.
In general, smaller dogs age slower than large breed dogs. Here's a simple breakdown:
Small breeds are considered senior dogs when they turn 10 to 12 years old.
Medium breeds are considered senior dogs when they hit 8 to 9 years old.
Large and giant breeds are considered senior dogs at around 6 to 7 years old.
Signs That Your Dog is Getting Old
As your dog grows older, they will experience various physical and mental changes. Some of these changes are natural, such as the appearance of grey hair around their muzzle, and do not require any veterinary care. However, certain changes may require your vet's attention to ensure that your furry friend remains healthy and comfortable.
Keep an eye out for the following signs of aging in your dog:
- Gum disease or tooth loss
- Arthritis or joint issues
- Reduced heart, kidney and liver function
- White hairs on the face and muzzle
- Vision and/or hearing loss
- Weight gain or loss
- Reduction of mental acuity
- Sleeping or more difficulty sleeping When do dogs become seniors? What are the indicators of aging that a responsible dog owner should be aware of, and what are the specific care requirements for an older dog? Our veterinarians across Lafayette have provided answers to these inquiries in our latest post.
Your Senior Dog's Care Requirements
You can do several things to help your pup maintain their comfort and well-being as they get older.
If you have a senior dog, it's important to prioritize regular vet visits. By doing so, you'll enable your vet to screen for any potential geriatric conditions and start treatment as soon as possible. A wellness exam will allow your veterinarian to evaluate your senior dog's nutrition and mobility, and offer recommendations for necessary adjustments, such as changes in exercise routines or diet.
Maintaining proper nutrition can help your furry friend maintain cognitive function as they grow older, in addition to the physical benefits of a healthy diet. Similar to humans, dogs can also suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's-like conditions. Feeding your dog a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, along with regular exercise, may aid in preserving mental alertness.
There are a variety of prescription diets and supplements available for senior dogs that target specific health conditions. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if a specific diet or supplement is appropriate for your pup.
As dogs age, their nutritional requirements may change. Senior dogs tend to become less active, making them more susceptible to weight gain. Excessive weight gain can lead to other health problems such as joint pain and cardiovascular conditions. Discuss with your veterinarian about adjusting your dog's daily calorie intake or switching to a weight loss-specific diet.
Exercise - Physical & Mental
It's crucial to provide mental stimulation for senior dogs in addition to regular physical exercise. Teaching your furry friend a new trick or introducing them to a new puzzle can be a great way to achieve this. Various problem-solving activities are available for dogs, such as puzzle chew toys that encourage them to use their minds to earn a treat.
As your dog grows older, it's vital to maintain a consistent schedule of physical activity. Exercise helps dogs maintain a healthy weight and keeps their joints strong. However, you may need to adjust the type of exercise you provide as your dog ages. For instance, if your dog seems to be struggling with lengthy walks that they once enjoyed, try taking them on shorter, more frequent walks instead.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.