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When Is a Dog Considered a Senior?

When Is a Dog Considered a Senior?

It can be difficult to tell when your dog is getting older and to be aware of the changes that are happening. Today, our Egg Harbor Township vets talk about what age is a dog a senior, what the signs are that your dog is getting old and how their needs will change.

When is a dog considered a senior?

You may be wondering what age your dog is considered a senior. Is one dog year really equal to 7 human years?

Not quite! In fact, the rate of aging in dogs is almost directly tied to the size of their breed. 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.

What are the signs that your dog is getting old?

Your dog will experience a number of changes as they age including effects on their physical and mental abilities. Many of these signs of aging in dogs are natural and harmless while others should be managed by a vet as early as possible.

Some signs that your dog is getting older include:

  • White hairs on the muzzle and face
  • Vision and/or hearing loss
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Gum disease or tooth loss
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Arthritis and joint issues
  • Reduced liver, kidney, and heart function
  • Sleeping more or difficulty sleeping
  • Reduction of mental acuity

What care should you consider with your senior dog?

There are a number of steps you can take as your dog ages to help keep them healthy and comfortable.

Routine Geriatric Veterinary Care

The first step to caring for a senior dog 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 assess your senior dog's nutrition levels and mobility, and provide recommendations for any adjustments that would benefit your dog, such as exercise or diet changes.

Ongoing Nutritional Considerations

A well-balanced diet doesn't just help keep your dog physically healthy, it can also help their cognitive abilities stay sharp as a proper diet would contain vital nutrients. Dogs, just like humans, can suffer from dementia or Alzheimers-like conditions. Feeding your dog food that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, along with providing them with proper exercise, may help them maintain mental alertness.

Prescription foods and supplements can also help to manage certain conditions that your dog is experiencing. Your vet can offer specifics for the types of foods that would best suit your senior dog and their needs.

As your dog ages, its nutrition needs will likely change. As senior dogs slow down and exercise less, they become more prone to weight gain. Excess weight gain can cause other health issues, including 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.

Daily Physical & Mental Exercises

While physical exercise is an important part of keeping your aging dog healthy, there is also a need for ongoing mental stimulation. Regardless of the age of your dog, you can introduce new toys and puzzles that can help them with keeping their mind working well. There are lots of options for problem-solving activities for dogs, such as a puzzle chew toy that will encourage your dog to exercise its mind to get a treat.

Physical activity os an important part of an older dog's routine. 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.

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 your senior pup in need of a routine wellness exam or preventive care? Contact our Egg Harbor Township vets today to book an appointment.

Always Welcoming New Patients

At Newkirk Family Veterinarians, we always accept new patients into our veterinary family. Our veterinarians are passionate about the health and well-being of Egg Harbor Township pets. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment. 

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