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When is a dog considered a senior?

When is a dog considered a senior?

The older your companion gets, the more their healthcare needs will change. It is important to meet the needs as they age. Here, our vets at Animal Medical Center of Cumming in Cumming talk about caring for geriatric dogs, what age is considered a senior for a dog, and what care they will need.

At what age is a dog considered a senior?

Generally, the breed of dog is the determining factor in when a dog is considered a senior.

Typically, the larger the dog, the sooner they become a senior. Here is a basic dog aging guide:

Small breeds: Small breeds of dogs are generally considered to be senior when they reach 10 to 12 years old.

Medium breeds: Medium breeds of dogs are generally considered to be senior when they reach 8 to 9 years old.

Large and giant breeds: Large and giant breeds of dogs are generally considered to be senior when they reach 6 to 7 years old.

Signs That Your Dog is Getting Old

There will be many obvious and physical signs of aging in dogs but there will also be a great deal of behavioral changes too. Some other changes that your dog may experience are the natural progression of aging (such as grey hair around their muzzle) and do not requiring any specific vet care, while other changes may be more drastic and possibly require additional veterinary care.

Some of the typical signs of aging in dogs 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

Senior Dog Care Considerations

Unfortunately, stopping or reversing the aging process isn't possible but you can slow it down by keeping your dog healthy and you can help to keep your old dog comfortable.

Routine Geriatric Veterinary Care

Routine care including exams and vaccinations can help you to keep your dog nice and healthy. 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 dog's nutrition and mobility and make recommendations for senior dog care including diet or exercise adjustments that can help improve your dog's quality of life and live pain-free.

Meeting the Nutritional Needs of Geriatric Dogs

Part of senior dog care will be meeting the nutritional needs of your furry friend. Once your senior dog has slowed down they will become prone to weight gain that can cause other health issues, including joint pain and cardiovascular conditions. Speak to your vet about adjusting your dog's daily calorie intake or switching to a food that is specifically formulated for weight loss. 

As your dog begins to enter their older years, your vet may offer recommendations for both brands of food and supplements to help keep them healthy.

A good diet and proper nutrition will be of great physical benefit to your dog and may be able to help your dog maintain their cognitive function as they age. Dogs, just like humans, can suffer from dementia or Alzheimer 's-like conditions. Feeding your dog that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, along with providing them with proper exercise, may help them maintain mental alertness.

Ensuring Physical & Mental Exercise

When your dog gets older, it can become more important than ever to keep them moving. Regular exercise is important for them to maintain their health as well as to keep 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. 

No matter what age a senior dog is you should always be sure to provide them with adequate mental stimulation. It's never too late to teach your pup a new trick or bring home a new puzzle. There are a variety of options available for problem-solving activities for dogs. A puzzle feeder is a great way to keep their mind active as well as aiding in digestion.

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. 

If you are wondering how old is a senior dog and when you should bring your old dog in for care, contact your Cumming vets to book a visit.

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Animal Medical Center of Cumming is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Cumming companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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