Is Your Dog Senior?
Dogs have different life spans than people, so it can be hard to know exactly when your dog qualifies as a “senior” dog. That doesn’t mean it’s not important to pay attention – this life stage brings on the risk of age-related health challenges as well as new opportunities to optimize nutrition.
To help you better understand your dog’s life stage, our experts have some tips for spotting whether or not your dog has entered old age.
- Pay Attention to Their Skin and Coat
Just like people, older dogs’ digestive systems are less efficient in digesting and absorbing nutrients from their meals, such as fats and other skin-essential nutrients, Your dogmay show gray hair, which most commonly occurs on their muzzle and around their eyes. They also develop dryer, coarser hair, and their coat may start to thin out. You may start to notice wrinkles on their skin and a brittle texture in their toenails.
- Monitor for Hearing and Vision Changes
Older dogs often experience a gradual loss of hearing, which you may notice if your dog stops responding to your commands, or takes longer to take note of what you’re saying. Many older dogs develop cataracts and other eye problems. Watch closely to see if your dog is bumping into things while he walks, and look into his eyes for signs of cloudiness.
- Watch for Reduced Mobility
Senior dogs might show reduced mobility. Early stages of osteoarthritis may be one of the underlying reasons for reduced mobility. Look for common symptoms like limping, walking slowly, refusing to walk up or down steps and lack of appetite.
What are signs of some age-related health problems in older dogs?
The best way to spot problems is to know what to look for. Pay attention to abnormal changes like disorientation, reduced social interaction, loss of house training, changes in the sleep-wake cycle, pacing, confusion, barking or crying at night, lack of appetite and sudden aggression. These can be signs of many problems, whether physical or cognitive.
What should I do if I see these changes in behavior?
The first important thing to do is pay attention and take note of what you see. These changes can be subtle in time. The more you can spot problems in advance, the better your chances are of getting your dog proactive care before a problem has a chance to get worse. Consult your veterinarian as soon as a problem surfaces so that you can get the most accurate possible diagnosis.
Older Dogs are Loveable as Ever
A dog is considered senior once he reaches the age of seven and 6 in large breed dogs, but most dogs may live well into their teens. With the proper nutrition and care, you can help your dog continue to live many more happy days with you and your family.