You love your dog, and you want to do whatever you can to keep him happy and comfortable. Now, he's getting older and you're starting to notice some signs of aging. He may have trouble getting up and down stairs because he has joint pain, he's sleeping more than usual, or he has some heath issues popping up.
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By learning about aging dogs and when exactly your dog becomes a senior, you can figure out what to expect and how to help him out in his later years.
At what age does a dog become a senior?
According to VCA Hospitals, a smaller dog becomes a senior when he reaches 11 in dog years, which is roughly "equivalent" to 65 in human years.
A medium-sized dog becomes a senior when they are 10 in dog years, and a large dog will become a senior at eight years old. Giant dogs like Great Danes are considered senior citizens when they are seven years old.
How long do dogs live?
The average lifespan of a dog will depend on its breed, size, and whether or not they have been spayed/ neutered. A giant or large dog will live eight to 12 years, medium-sized dogs will live 10-13 years, and small dogs can live 13 to 17 years. For example, while an Irish wolfhound may not make it to 10 years of age, a Pomeranian could live up to 16 years.
Taking your dog to the veterinarian for checkups regularly and watching out for health issues can increase his lifespan. Along with ensuring he has excellent veterinary care, you can make sure he gets at least 30 minutes of exercise per day and feed him high-quality dog food.
How to spot signs of aging in dogs
Older dogs may exhibit the following signs of aging:
- Graying hair
- A change in weight
- Slowing down
- Difficulty moving
- Bad breath
- Trouble going to the bathroom
- Eye cloudiness
- Appearance of new bumps and lumps
As a dog ages, these signs may become more apparent. However, other health issues could be at play, so make sure you're in touch with your veterinarian when you notice any changes.
Stages of your senior dog's life
When your large dog is around eight to 10 or your small dog is 11, the aging process will become apparent. Your dog could first start to get gray hair and slow down. Over time, you could see your dog losing teeth, hair, muscle tone, and mental acuity. He may also have health issues that require veterinary care such as prescription medicines and surgeries.
How to care for a senior dog
To care for an older dog, you should first ensure that he is eating specially formulated senior dog food. It's also important to keep up his exercise, even though it won't be as rigorous, and to make sure he gets regular checkups at the vet. Brushing his teeth every day is critical too. If he's having trouble getting around, you can move his dog bowls to a more accessible place, getting doggy stairs so he can jump on the couch, and installing dog gates so he won't accidentally fall down the stairs. Of course, it's always a good idea to cuddle your pup and show him love so he knows you care.
Older dogs become seniors between eight to 11 years of age, depending on their size, and they can live up to 17 years if they are smaller and healthy. By keeping up with veterinary care, looking out for any health issues, changing his diet, and giving him the exercise he needs every day, you can ensure he will be comfortable and content no matter what.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.