Dogs have a shorter life expectancy than humans, so it is impossible not to see them grow old if you are with them from puppies. It is not something that should make us sad, since the most important factor that we must assess is their quality of life .
When does a dog start to get old?
Although it seems strange, the life expectancy of dogs generally depends on their size. Small dogs have a life expectancy of about fifteen years on average , while large dogs have a life expectancy of about ten to twelve years.
The life expectancy of our dog depends on many factors (genetic or environmental), although as a general rule, the better its quality of life, the longer it can live.
This is the same with humans, since life expectancy has increased a lot in recent decades due to improved living conditions, so it is currently not uncommon to find people in countries like Spain who live almost 100 years.
Dogs have the same stages as humans throughout their lives, that is:
- Cubs : under one year
- Youth : one to four years
- Adults : four to seven / eight years
- Elderly : over eight years of age and older
Thus, it is normal for a dog to begin to age after seven, eight or nine years, depending on genetic factors such as breed and its quality of life.
Symptoms a dog shows when he gets older
Although each individual is different, there are a series of signs common to all dogs that will indicate that our dog is getting older. It is important to understand that aging is something completely normal and we must accept it and adapt to the new needs of our pet.
• Appearance of gray hair and change of color in the hair
It is very common in dogs that are beginning to age. The appearance of small groups of gray hair forming small localized white spots or the appearance of gray hair distributed throughout the coat. This is something natural that should not worry us , although if you notice that your hair loses shine, you can add a little Omega oils in the diet (such as salmon oil) to recover it in a few weeks.
• Lack of appetite
Lack of appetite is common in adult and older dogs, if your puppy eats three times a day, you can try feeding him only twice (in the morning and at night). You can also try changing your diet until you find another that you like better.
Remember that when you go to the vet you should take the opportunity to check his mouth , and in any case, do it periodically (usually once a year) or when you detect any sign that makes you suspect of this problem.
With age, problems of periodontitis or gingivitis usually appear, especially if oral hygiene has not been adequate, so it is important to pay attention to this point and brush our dog’s teeth from puppyhood.
• Decreased play and energy when walking
Older dogs generally have less desire to play than puppies and youngsters, this is completely normal and should not worry us. There are more playful breeds than others, although this is something that depends on each individual .
Each dog has its own personality, and like people, there are dogs that are more sociable than others. That is why there are dogs that play only when they are puppies, while others play throughout their lives.
On the other hand, surely our dog will get more tired when walking, so we will need to adapt to his condition. Never force your dog to walk, much less to do intense exercise, just let him set the pace himself.
• Osteoarthritis and other joint problems
With age, the cartilage of the joints deteriorates, which can lead to osteoarthritis and other joint problems. This is something common that occurs with age, but we should not stop going to the vet if we see that it becomes a serious problem that affects our pet’s quality of life too much . Chondroprotectors can help our animal to relieve joint pain and maintain a good quality of life.
• Fecal or urinary incontinence
Lack of control when eliminating generally only occurs in some cases, especially when the dog is very old. There are special diapers that we can use or adapt from a common one for babies, so we simply must find solutions and be understanding and tolerant with our pet.
Remember that other problems, such as a urine infection, can also cause incontinence . That is why we insist on the importance of going to a veterinarian to perform an examination on our pet to determine the cause.
• Color change in your eyes
This is something completely natural too, as they get older the color of their eyes loses intensity, showing somewhat grayish , although as in previous cases, we must go to a veterinarian to verify that it is not glaucoma or cataracts. In this case, we must go to an ophthalmology specialist to perform medical or surgical treatment.
What should I do if my dog gets older?
Like humans, dogs age too, so see this as totally natural and accept it. As we pointed out before, the priority in a dog’s life is not how many years it lives, but its quality of life.
Older dogs require special needs , which we can summarize as:
- A quality diet, appropriate to their age and size, for senior dogs. If you have dental problems, you can make a puree with the feed and a little water or with natural food. Make sure clean, fresh water is available at all times.
- Adaptation of walks and exercise, that is the dog who sets the frequency and intensity of them. Remember to put a comfortable bed in a warm place at home to rest.
- Periodic veterinary check-ups, simply as “maintenance”. Older dogs are weaker and have a higher risk of contracting or developing some diseases, so we must keep their vaccinations and check-ups up to date.
- Assure him the attention and affection he needs This will help maintain your physical and emotional well-being.
Remember, regardless of age, enjoy your pet each of your days, just as she enjoys you each of hers.