Does your best friend seem to take a few seconds longer than usual to stretch and get up off the couch? Do you notice them sneaking off to take more naps during the day or ignoring the birds in the garden?
Whether your best friend is of the human or canine persuasion, these are all signs that they are getting on in years.
Regardless of your ability to purchase any creams, lotions, potions, or surgeries, it is inevitable that our furry friends will head off to the dog park in the sky one day.
Until that time comes, there are ways that you can make their twilight years more comfortable and enjoyable. Continue reading to find out how you can assist your dog as they age.
What is old age for a dog?
Just as there is an extreme degree of variance between the different breeds of dogs, so too is there regarding when veterinarians consider a dog to be labeled a senior.
A Great Dane is deemed to be senior at only five or six years of age. According to the American Kennel Association, a Great Dane's life expectancy is between eight to 10 years. On the other hand, a Chihuahua has an average lifespan of 17 years and is only considered a senior at 10. On average, a dog is regarded as a senior at about seven or eight years of age.
What factors affect when a dog is considered a senior?
Genetics plays the most significant role when a dog is considered a senior. It is a well-known fact that regardless of the breed, smaller dogs live longer than larger ones. However, breeding lines or genetic traits are also important, as is your dog's diet, environment, and activity level. This is similar to what doctors have been telling us humans for years: eat well, exercise, and limit your stress.
What should I change as my dog ages?
Senior dogs do have different requirements than the puppy that originally bounced through every room and peed on the good carpet. Check out some of our top tips for how you can assist your dog as they age.
Spending time together – The best part about owning a dog is their unconditional love and overwhelming desire to spend quantity time with you. As they become less active, it is still instrumental that you find other ways of spending more time together. Not only will this help with any separation anxiety, but it will allow you the opportunity to notice subtle behavior changes or health issues as they arise.
Rethink your environment – A loss of vision, hearing, or mobility is common as a dog ages. Don't sit back and wait for an accident to happen. Instead, look for potentially dangerous obstacles in your home and attend to them now. Baby gates on stairs will ensure your dog doesn't fall but also that they don't climb and get stuck or hurt themselves. Slippery tiles or floors are tough for senior dogs, so area rugs or rubber mats can help.
Vet visits – As the owner of a senior dog, you should increase the vet visits to every six months for preventative care. This way, you can discuss any noticeable issues and get the appropriate tests immediately to prolong your dog's life and make them happier and more comfortable.
Feeding Routine – Excess weight puts additional strain on already aging and creaky joints. It is also typical for older dogs to slow down and not burn as many calories. As such, natural dog food specifically designed for weight control may be advisable.
Watching your dog start to turn grey around the muzzle can be endearing; however, being witness to their first signs of aches and pains can be distressing. While you will never forget the energetic puppy, accepting that your dog is wandering towards senior status will help both of you have more heartwarming moments together.