If you have been together with your dog for a long time, then your canine companion has probably been one of the most important parts of your life for most of this period. You might have noticed that your dog has been acting differently lately. They might be tiring out more quickly or they are not eating as much.
Don’t panic! Your dog is most likely still healthy and happy. All of these signs are just a natural part of their aging process, and it’s most likely that they are starting to enter their senior years.
How do I Know if my Dog is a Senior Dog?
Unlike in humans, there is no single standard age where a dog can be considered a senior. For dogs, the general age to be considered a “senior” is around seven to ten years. However, the size of the dog does matter: large breeds tend to age more rapidly compared to small breeds. A Great Dane, for example, would be considered a senior dog at around seven years old, but a Pomeranian will only be considered a senior once they reach around ten or eleven years old.
Signs that a Dog is a Senior
As with their age in years, the signs that signify aging in dogs can vary from one breed to another, and indeed, one dog to another. However, there are general signs that you might want to look out for, such as:
- Eating Pattern and Weight Gain: Senior dogs tend to eat a lot less and a lot more slowly compared to younger dogs since they are not as active. You might also notice that they are gaining weight more quickly compared to when they were younger.
- Drinking and Peeing: Many senior dogs tend to drink a lot less as well, however, they start to have trouble with their bladder control. You might notice that your dog, who hasn’t peed in the house since they were housetrained, has recently started to have accidents even while they are sleeping.
- Sleeping Frequency: As with humans, senior dogs tend to sleep a lot more compared to when they were younger. They also tend to look for cool, dark, and quiet places, even if they didn’t mind sleeping in the middle of a noisy and crowded living room when they were younger.
- Cognitive Health: Senior dogs are prone to canine dementia. You might notice that they’re not responding as quickly to an external stimulus, or they start to bump into things more often, or they might even look like they’re getting lost inside their own home.
How can I Take Care of my Senior Dog Properly?
Given that your dog is now approaching their twilight years, it is important that you give them the right level of care and attention to make their remaining years as safe and comfortable as possible. Luckily for you, an online dog care guide for senior dogs isn’t hard to find.
If your dog isn’t sick, the best way to care for them during their senior years is simply to increase the level of your care and attention a little bit! Where you once scheduled vet checkups once a year, maybe make it twice or even thrice a year now. Where you were not as discerning with their dog food (most store-bought brands are fine for middle-aged dogs), you might want to consider investing in senior-care dog food that’s high in good fatty acids.
There are generally three areas of your senior dog’s life that you want to focus on: their health, their nutritional intake, and their level of exercise. Aside from more frequent and regular vet checkups, you should also inspect your dog now and again. Look for any symptoms that are common in older dogs, such as cataracts (cloudy eyes), arthritis (joint pain), or even bumps in the skin that can signify more serious diseases such as cancer.
When it comes to your dog’s food intake, make sure that you are feeding them the right kind of dog food and in the right amount. Senior dogs generally don’t need dog food in the same amount as their younger counterparts, but they do need dogfood that’s fortified with vitamins and fatty acids.
Finally, when it comes to exercise, when senior dogs love to exercise. Just keep a closer eye on them during walks to see if they are getting tired and need a break. They might also be feeling pain in their joints or paws, so you might need to slow down or shorten your walks.