When can we consider a dog as a senior? As a dog owner, how can we detect signs of aging, and what specific care does our aging dog require? Our team of veterinarians at Los Angeles will provide answers to these queries in today's article.
How old is a senior dog?
You may have heard that one human year is equivalent to seven dog years, but determining a dog's age is not as straightforward as that. Different dog breeds age at varying rates, and smaller dogs usually age slower than large breed dogs.
Here is a general guideline:
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 they age, your dog will begin to undergo both mental and physical changes. While some of these changes occur due to the natural aging process (such as grey hair around their muzzle) and won't need any specific veterinary care, other changes may need your vet's attention to help your pooch maintain their health and comfort as much as possible.
Watch for these signs that your dog is getting older:
- 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
- Loss of muscle tone
Your Senior Dog's Care Requirements
As your furry friend ages, there are a few steps you can take to ensure their happiness and health.
As a pet owner, it's crucial to prioritize regular vet visits for your senior pup. These wellness exams enable your veterinarian to screen for any emerging geriatric conditions and start treatment promptly. During the check-up, your vet will assess your senior dog's nutrition and mobility and offer recommendations for adjustments like exercise or diet changes that would benefit your furry friend.
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.
There is also a range of prescription diets and supplements available for senior dogs that are targeted to the various health conditions that senior dogs experience. Speak with your vet to see if they recommend a specific diet or supplement for your pup.
As your canine companion ages, their dietary requirements may undergo some changes. Senior dogs tend to become less active, leading to a higher likelihood of weight gain. This can result in various health concerns, such as joint pain and cardiovascular problems. It is advisable to consult with your veterinarian regarding modifying your dog's calorie intake or considering a weight loss-focused diet.
Exercise - Physical & Mental
Along with regular physical exercise, it is important that senior dogs also receive some sort of mental stimulation. It's never too late to teach your pup a new trick or bring home a new puzzle. There are many problem-solving options for dogs such as a puzzle chew toy that will encourage your dog to exercise their mind to get a treat.
As dogs grow older, it becomes essential to maintain their physical activity through a regular exercise routine. It not only helps them keep a healthy weight but also ensures the well-being of their joints. Nonetheless, it might be necessary to modify their exercise regimen. Consider frequent shorter walks if you notice your furry friend struggling with long walks.
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.
Is it time for your senior dog's wellness exam? Contact our Los Angeles vets to book an appointment today.