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When is a Dog Considered a Senior

When is a Dog Considered a Senior

As we spend our days alongside our furry friends, it can be challenging to recognize changes in their behavior as they grow older. Our vets at Clarksville, discuss the point at which your aging dog becomes a senior and the additional care they may require.

At What Point is My Dog a Senior?

You may be familiar with the idea that one human year is equivalent to seven dog years, but it's actually more complex than that. The reason being that various dog breeds age at varying rates compared to one another.

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.

Signs That Your Dog is Getting Older

As your dog ages, you are likely to notice both physical and mental changes in your pup. While some of these changes are the natural progression of aging (such as grey hair around their muzzle) and do not require any specific vet care, other changes may need veterinary attention to ensure your pup maintains their comfort into their old age.

Some signs that your dog is getting older include:

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

Extra Care That is Needed For Senior Dogs

As your furry friend ages, there are a few ways you can ensure their comfort and overall well-being.

Geriatric Vet Care

The first step to caring for a senior pup 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 also assess your senior dog's nutrition and mobility and make recommendations for diet or exercise adjustments that may benefit your dog. 

Nutrition For Senior Dogs

As your dog grows older, their nutritional requirements will alter. Senior dogs tend to reduce their physical activity and become more susceptible to gaining weight. Excessive weight gain can lead to other health problems such as joint pain and cardiovascular diseases. It is advisable to consult with your veterinarian about modifying your dog's daily calorie intake or introducing a food that is specially designed for weight loss.

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. 

Maintaining a proper diet can benefit your dog not only physically but also cognitively as they age. Similar to humans, dogs can also experience dementia or conditions similar to Alzheimer's. By providing your dog with a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and ensuring they get adequate exercise, you may be able to help them maintain their mental alertness.

Exercise - Physical & Mental 

As your dog ages, it is important that they keep up with a regular schedule of physical activity. 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 in duration. 

In addition to routine physical exercise, providing mental stimulation to senior dogs is crucial. It is never too late to teach your furry friend a new trick or introduce them to a thought-provoking puzzle. There are numerous problem-solving activities available for dogs, such as a puzzle feeder that requires them to put in effort to obtain their kibble.

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 dog due for a wellness exam? Contact Sango Veterinary Hospital today to book an appointment for your pup.

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Sango Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Clarksville companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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