Remember when you were a kid, if someone challenged you based on your age, you could just say, “Well, I’m 35 in dog years!” Dogs have shorter life spans than people, so they will mature and age more quickly. But pet life spans have a huge range; most dogs live about 12 years, but some can live much longer. With such a wide potential life span, how can you tell when your pet is aging and needs additional TLC?
What’s a “senior” dog?
A pup’s golden years start between 7 and ten years old. Larger breeds often become seniors earlier than small breeds.
Basic signs of aging are normal.
Dogs share many signs of aging with people. Hearing may not be quite as sharp as it once was, fur may thin out or change color, and Fido might take a little longer to limber up after getting out of bed in the morning. Older dogs also tend to sleep more often and wear out more quickly during exercise. Healthy dogs start showing these common signs of aging gradually over time.
What health issues are most common with an older dog?
Older dogs are at higher risk for kidney and liver disease, intestinal problems, cancers, diabetes, arthritis and other joint diseases, and cognitive problems. But don’t let the list upset you—with a healthy diet and regular exercise, Fido should live a long, healthy life.
How often should my senior pet see the vet?
Annual wellness checkups should still be the norm for senior pets, but these checkups become more important as pets age. Your vet may recommend additional tests for older pets as a preventative measure or to ensure that any issues are caught as early as possible. If you notice anything abnormal in your pet that concerns you, don’t wait for the yearly checkup. Make an appointment to visit your pet clinic or animal hospital as soon as possible. LazyPaw Animal Hospitals has convenient online scheduling available 24/7, so even if you have a problem in the middle of the night, you can rest easy knowing you already have an appointment first thing in the morning.
How can I help my dog age gracefully?
Your pet’s golden years can still be lots of fun, especially if you take good care of them with quality food, regular exercise and scheduled veterinarian visits and tests. Switching your dog to a senior specific diet will give them lower fat and higher protein to help them age well. Feeding your dog more frequently than the normal once or twice per day will also help them digest food more easily.
How can I make my senior dog comfortable?
Senior dogs aren’t as good at regulating their temperature, so keep them warm and dry. If outdoor temperatures are severely hot or cold, keep your pet indoors as much as possible. If your pet’s hearing or vision isn’t as strong, keep your home free of obstacles. Regular tooth brushing with special toothpaste will also protect your dog’s teeth against decay. Regular, yearly pet teeth cleaning is also a vital part of good dental care for pets.
Getting older doesn’t have to mean your pet won’t still enjoy life. With proper preventative care, early detection, basic day-to-day exercise, and good quality food, you and Fido can keep enjoying your long-term relationship for many years to come.