Whether your precious pooch is a puppy or over a decade "young," he'll always probably seem like your innocent little baby. However, similarly to human beings, aging dogs often experience a lot of major changes, whether in terms of cognition or weight gain.
Although all dogs are different, many of them begin exhibiting signs of "senior status" when they are somewhere in the range of 7 to 10 years old, according to the ASPCA. During this time frame, you may begin to notice some conspicuous signs of the aging process in your cutie, so pay close attention.
Breed type plays a large role in the aging process of canines. Bigger dog breeds tend to display signs of aging a lot quicker than smaller ones. For example, if you have a golden retriever and Lhasa apso who were both born during the same year, you may notice the former experiencing "senior" elements at an earlier age, although it always depends on the individual pet. A tiny dog who weighs under 20 pounds may show noticeable indications of aging at roughly age 7, while a bigger canine who tips the scales at more than 51 pounds may begin showing them earlier -- at approximately 6 years old.
As your pet gets older, be very diligent when it comes to any hints of health problems. Older dogs, simply put, are a lot more vulnerable to a bevy of different issues, including obesity, vision and hearing loss, disorientation, periodontal disease, arthritis, liver disease, prostate disease, renal failure, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and cancer. Because of the increased risk of many of these conditions, regular and frequent veterinary care is key for senior dogs.
In some cases, you may be able to visually spot clues that your dog isn't a sprightly little puppy anymore. Apart from classic weight gain, many dogs also exhibit graying of their facial fur and thinning of the coat. If your pet's hair doesn't seem as glossy and thick as before, it may just be a natural progression of his aging. Decreased skin elasticity also is often a telling sign of canine aging.
As your dog hits the senior years, consider making changes to his diet to keep his body healthy and active. Your veterinarian can assist you in putting together a sensible and nutritious diet plan to accommodate your dog's age. Senior dogs are much more susceptible to weight gain, and tend to require diets that involve reduced calories along with ample protein that is easy to digest. Apart from dietary adjustments, consistent and frequent daily physical fitness is an absolute must for dogs of all ages, including wise seniors. Regular exercise, along with proper diet, may be able to prevent frustrating and unhealthy weight gain issues.
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