What Makes a Dog Senior?Petmania Pet Care Advisor
Just like us, our dogs grow old and with old age, often comes new health and mobility issues. Your once, energetic little puppy may show signs of slowing down, and becoming less playful. You may even notice some grey hair!
It’s important to recognise the signs of an aging dog, not only so you can adapt their lifestyle to fit their needs, but to make them as comfortable as possible in their golden years.
In this blog post, we’ll talk about what makes a dog a ‘senior’, identifying some health issues they may face, and what steps to take to ensure they are as happy and as content as can be.
What age is my dog a senior?
There is no ‘one age’ when your dog is considered senior, as it depends on the breed. Smaller dogs are seen as senior when they are around 11 years old, whereas bigger breeds are senior when they’re around 7-8 years old. Certain Giant breeds can reach senior status at 5-6 years old.
Most dogs are considered puppies until they are 6 months—1 year old. The adult life stage then usually lasts until they are around 5 or 6 years old, at which point, during their middle-aged years, they may exhibit signs of aging. Other dogs can reach 12 years old before they show signs of ageing.
Signs of Aging
Just like humans, dogs can suffer from age-related health issues, such as;
- Vision loss
- Hearing loss
- Energy loss
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Weight gain
- Toilet accidents in the house
- Memory loss (forgetting commands/cues they once knew)
- Muscle/joint pain
- Organ-related issues (kidneys, liver, heart)
- Teeth loss
- New lumps/bumps around the body
Aging is a gradual process, and you may not recognise all the signs right away. If you do notice any, it’s important to take them to your local vet to be inspected so they can provide the best treatments and advice going forward.
Tips for Looking After Your Senior Dog
- Keep them Active
Make sure you take them out for a walk every day; sometimes, two five minute walks are better than one long, ten minute walk. Go at your dog’s pace and stop when they need to stop. Try to keep to a familiar route (especially if they’re very old) and if you feel your dog needs one, take a break.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, which is in fact, false! Training your older dog new commands is a great way to keep their mind active. As with all other activities, keep it short, know when your dog is finished, and be patient-they can learn new tricks, but it may take them a bit longer than when they were a puppy!
- Invest in a Good Bed
Senior doggies need a good bed as muscle and joint problems are rife when they age. A pain-free, restful sleep is very important for older dogs. It can improve mobility, lessen pain, and improve their quality of life.
A thermal dog bed can assist a senior dog with problems regarding stiffness and joints. Beds such as SCRUFFS Thermal Box Bed and the SCRUFFS Thermal Ring Bed is a warm pet bed that is ideal for pets who suffer from arthritis or other joint problems. Each bed contains a foam layer, backed with reflective foil, keeping your pet warm.
You can also place a heated pad or mat into your dog’s bed for a similar effect, such as the PETLIFE Hottie Microwaveable Heat Pad. The gentle, moderate warmth is ideal to aid recovery and to reduce stress after a visit to the vet or kennels, and eases aches and pains in cats, dogs and other small pets.
Dogs who suffer with conditions like arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other joint or circulation problems will also benefit from an orthopaedic or memory foam bed which they can get in and out of easily, like the M-PETS Oleron Memory Foam Mattress, which provides your dog with extra support and comfort.
- Stick to a Healthy Diet
As your dog reaches his senior years, he will also need some additional nutrients to help support his aging muscles and joints. Take your dog to his vet so they can conduct an overview of his diet and recommend any adjustments that may need to be made.
They may suggest moving to a senior dog food formula, which has been developed with lower calorie levels and a careful balance of other nutrients, such as essential fatty acids and antioxidants to support your dog’s ageing joints and immune system.
Try not to over-indulge in treats as too many calories can lead to inflammation and weight gain.
- Small Changes Can Go a Long Way
Little changes like using a dog ramp to help your pup get up and down from the car or an elevated dog bowl to eliminate excess strain on a dog’s head and neck. Always keep an eye out for any signs of discomfort such as limping, difficulty changing position, trouble getting up the stairs or jumping, and lying down when eating or drinking—all of which suggest that your dog will need to take a visit to the vet.