Generally, dogs are considered senior at 7 years old. This varies between breeds. Very large or giant breeds are considered senior around 6 years, whereas small breeds are not really considered senior until around 10 years.
This stage of a dog's life is equivalent to a person entering late middle age around 55 years old. At this stage the dog should still be fairly lively, but veterinary check-ups should become more frequent.
What To Expect When Your Dog Becomes A Senior
Your dog will begin to slow down a bit. When you are playing fetch, he may want to give up sooner than he did in the past. He will probably start to get a bit slower getting up and may not be quite so enthusiastic about food or toys.
These things all comes with age, however, other things you can look out for may indicate some kind of health issue
if your dog becomes confused or disoriented or has more potty accidents than previously, this could be signs that visit to the vet is needed.
Things You Can Do to Help Your Dog As He Ages.
Change your exercise routine - instead of going for one long daily walk, split the exercise into 2 or 3 shorter walks.
Give your dog more frequent outdoor potty breaks.
Increase the frequency of veterinary check ups. Visit the vet every 6 months rather than once a year.
Consider changing his diet. Discuss this with your vet. There are formulations specifically made for senior dogs.
Keep a note of any changes in your dogs behaviour. These can be discussed with your vet on the next visit.
If your dog is having trouble getting around the house, consider installing ramps or steps where needed.
Common Conditions In Older Dogs
Some medical problems become more common as a dog ages.
Arthritis is quite common condition in older dogs. It can be quite painful. Dogs can't tell us when they are in pain so you will need to keep an eye out for the symptoms. These include difficulty lying down or getting up. Dogs will sometimes let out a short yelp of pain as they do this. They often have difficulty finding a comfortable position to lie down. They will not be enthusiastic about exercise or playing games. In fact, they may show a complete disinterest in life.
Arthritis can't be cured but a lot can be done to make your dog more comfortable.
Related article: Recognizing arthritis in dogs
Dental disease is more prevalent in older dogs. You should take care to make sure your dogs teeth are kept clean. Prevent the build up of plaque which, if not removed, can become tartar which will lead to gum disease.
Prevention is better than cure.
Related article: Cleaning your dog’s teeth.
Many older dogs are affected by diabetes. In fact, diabetes is becoming more and more common in dogs. It is caused either by the production of insulin declining or the insulin being produced not being properly utilised.
There are a number of symptoms of diabetes, these include increased urination, weight loss and fatigue
Related article: Dogs and diabetes
All of the conditions mentioned above should be discussed with your vet at the earliest opportunity.