As overall knowledge and medicine progresses for humans, it is the same for our dogs. The more informed we are as owners, the more we can help our dogs age gracefully.
What is old? Many of us have no idea when our dogs start to age. It varies on a dog by dog basis, but there is a general idea of when dogs become senior. Small dog breeds generally become senior around the age of seven as their lifespan is twelve to fifteen years. Medium dog breeds often become senior around the age of six as their lifespan is a little shorter at ten to twelve years. Large dog breeds may become senior as early as the age of five as their lifespan is even shorter at nine to ten years.
What are signs of aging? Many times your pet will start sleeping more, have a change in appetite, show a decrease in energy, and start coughing more often. Most of these symptoms can be explained away, so make sure to talk to your veterinarian on a regular basis. Once your dog shows signs of aging, you will want to start taking your pet to the veterinarian twice a year instead of once.
What is important for aging pets? The true key to a long healthy life for your pet is living healthfully as a young dog. Early recognition of problems that come with aging is important for your dog. Here are some tips for keeping your older dog healthy.
- Be sure you are not over feeding your dog. As dogs age, they generally are less active and not burning as many calories. You definitely do not want your older pet to gain weight as it is very tough on joints and makes it harder for them to get around. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a good Senior Diet, they can help you choose the right one for your dog.
- To help keep your dog moving and trim, adequate exercise is key. You need to make sure that your aging dog is getting plenty of exercise. The more your dog moves, the more they will be able to keep moving.
- With the help of your veterinarian, you may also decide it is important to give your dog a supplement in addition to their pet food. For example, supplements such as glucosamine/chondroitin can be helpful for arthritis.
- We strongly recommend a Senior Blood panel be done once a year. This would include a Blood Chemistry Profile to check organ function, and a CBC Complete Blood Count this will check white and red blood cell counts. This can lead to early diagnosis and treatment of disease.
- Dental check ups are part of a Senior Wellness Exam. This is also very important in aging dogs. Plaque and tarter build up can lead to infection. Left unchecked it can even lead to heart disease.
- Most importantly, become informed about aging dogs and keep them as much a part of your life as possible. Keep your dog engaged, active and loved.
Contact your veterinarian as soon as you feel like your dog is hitting his or her golden years and together you can create a plan of action. As with anything, prevention is the best medicine!
Follow our blog for quarterly updates on Aging Gracefully. Each quarter we will discuss a different aspect of aging for dogs. If there is anything you would like more information about, comment on this blog and let us know. Or if your dog has a specific need, contact the office to schedule an appointment, 513-523-5272.