A couple of years can make a big difference for a dog. If you adopted your dog as a puppy, you can attest to how quickly that chaotic-but-fun puppyhood phase seemed to fly by; sometimes it feels like you blinked, and suddenly you had an adult dog!
The transition from an adult dog to a senior dog can be a bit more subtle, but it’s certainly happening with each passing day. How do you know when your dog is classified as “senior?” How can you keep your dog feeling happy and comfortable as he transitions into his golden years? Read on to find out!
How Old is a Senior Dog?
You and your pooch may be growing older together, but not quite at the same rate. After all, a one-year-old human is not nearly as mature and capable as the typical one-year-old dog.
A common method (and misconception) of calculating a dog’s age is to multiply his “human” age by seven. With this logic, a dog who was born two years ago is actually 14 in “dog years,” and a three-year-old dog is actually 21. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
This calculation may work as a rough estimate for some breeds, but it’s not an accurate age representation for all dogs. As we know, every dog is different—just think about the vast differences between a Chihuahua and a Rottweiler!
In order to calculate your dog’s age more accurately, you would need to consider his breed and size. You’ll also need to consider the fact that dogs tend to age more rapidly during the first year or two of their lives. After that, the aging process will typically slow down.
As a general rule, most dogs are classified as “senior” when they’re about 7 years old. However, this can vary significantly based on breed, size, and life expectancy. As a general guide:
- Small breeds can be considered senior around the ages of 10-12.
- Medium-sized breeds cam be considered senior around 8-9 years old.
- Large or giant breeds can be considered senior around 6-7 years old.
Individual dogs age at different paces as well. The truest signs of aging show up physically and mentally, rather than as a date on the calendar or specific birthday.
Signs Your Dog is Aging
If you’ve adopted an older dog or a rescue, it’s possible that you don’t know his exact age. However, there are some common signs to look out for that may indicate that your dog is reaching his golden years.
Common signs that your dog is aging include:
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in appetite
- Vision loss (or cloudy eyes, which often occur naturally with aging)
- Hearing loss
- Weight gain (weight loss is also common in much older dogs)
- Muscle loss
- Decreased energy
- Joint and mobility issues (often exhibited through stiffness and reluctance to move or climb)
- Dental issues
- Bathroom issues (such as difficulties with bladder control)
- Changes to skin or coat (such as graying, hair loss, and loss of skin elasticity)
- Weakened immune system
- Mental health issues such as anxiety, confusion, and behavioral changes
Anytime you notice significant changes in your dog’s behavior or appearance, it’s a good idea to consult your vet. Before chalking it up to aging, you’ll want your vet to rule out any health conditions that can be addressed.
Caring for Your Senior Dog
Help your loyal, furry best friend enjoy his golden years to the fullest by providing proper care.
Some important tips for caring for your senior dog include:
Schedule regular vet visits to rule out/address underlying health issues.
If you haven’t already, enroll in pet insurance so that any issues that arise in the future are covered. (While late is better than never, keep in mind that preexisting conditions will not be covered.)
Maintain a low-key lifestyle: don’t push your pooch past his limits, physically and emotionally.
Dogs are creatures of habit, so maintain a consistent routine. The older your dog gets, the more difficult it will be for him to adjust to lifestyle changes (or even new furniture arrangements).
Install ramps or stairs if your dog has difficulties jumping or climbing onto the bed or couch.
Continue exercising, but focus on low-impact activities. Some senior dogs do better with shorter, more frequent walks rather than 1-2 long walks each day.
Keep his mind sharp with brain-boosting activities.
Feed him high-quality, nutrient-rich food; this often means switching to senior dog food.
- Boost his health with senior supplements. If you’re not sure where to start, try Pet Honesty’s Senior Dog Health Booster 3-Pack, which contains our best-selling:
- Senior Hemp Mobility Soft Chews
- 10-for-1 Multivitamin Soft Chews
- Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil
Your senior dog has just as much love to give as his younger counterparts; he just may not have as much energy! With all of the years of love and loyalty that our dogs give us, it only makes sense that we focus on keeping them happy, healthy, and comfortable throughout their lifespan.