When Does My Dog Become A Senior?
That would be around 7-8 years of age.
However, not all dogs are the same. Larger breeds, especially very large dogs (Great Danes, etc.), tend to age faster than small dogs.
The short answer would be; large dogs become seniors at 7-8 years of age, while smaller dogs at 8-9 years of age.
Of course, they are also other factors that will determine the dog’s health and vitality. Sufficient exercise, a healthy diet, and spending enough time with their family.
Keep in mind that different dog breeds can also have very different lifespans. Great Danes, for example, are estimated to live from 8-10 years, while a purse-sized Yorkie might live up to 16 years of age!
So which are the most common health problems in senior dogs? You would be surprised that dogs are very similar to us, and can face very similar problems when aging. Let’s take a look.
10 Most Common Health Problems in Senior Dogs
1) Loss of hearing
This problem is very common in older dogs. While there is no treatment to stop it, it’s not a major problem.
It’s important to determine if the dog is losing hearing, vision, or is showing signs of dementia, as many owners can mistake one for the other.
If the dog is becoming deaf, there are many ways to adapt. Be patient and try to communicate with your hands. Take time and develop new ways to communicate with your dog.
What are some of the most common symptoms, that your dog is becoming deaf?
Your dog might stop reacting to the sound of his squeaky toys. He won’t come to you when you call him, and won’t be spooked by louder noises. You can test it in many ways, by making noise around the dog and seeing if he responds.
2) Loss of vision
When your dog gets older, changes in his eyes might occur. Just like becoming deaf, becoming blind from old age cannot be reversed.
The good thing is this is usually not a life-threatening condition (unless paired with other serious health issues).
If your dog is losing vision, he will need more care and attention, but can still live a perfectly happy life (same goes for being deaf).
Be careful to always monitor him and keep him on a leash when outdoors.
Inside the house, avoid moving furniture. The dog will get adjusted to a certain setup, and he might get hurt if things are moved around.
Diabetes mostly occurs in dogs at 8 years of age and up. It’s more common in female dogs.
While there is no ultimate proof, keeping your dog on a healthy diet, largely free of sugar, might truly help prevent it.
Many people don’t stop to think about the different qualities of dog food. Quality dog food can be very expensive. But if you can afford it, it will truly be a lifelong investment for your dog’s health and might prevent or delay many health issues.
So how do we notice that our dog might be suffering from diabetes?
They might be thirsty all the time and urinate more. They can also be more tired than usual and lose weight for no apparent reason.
Their cuts will heal slowly, and they might be exposed to recurring infections.
Impaired vision can also be a sign of diabetes.
4) Dental issues and disease is one of the senior dog health problems
Many dogs in mature years suffer from these problems. Plaque builds up under their gums and can cause different infections and gum separation.
These infections can be dangerous, spreading to the bloodstream and even damaging organs.
Our dental health is very important, and so is our dog’s dental health.
Luckily for you, we prepared an informative article about your dog’s dental hygiene, where you can learn how to keep your dog’s mouth fresh and healthy.
As the dog ages, it’s important to take him for regular checkups at the vet (also checking the mouth).
As dogs get older, they might become a little slower and less active. Lack of activity can cause obesity, which can lead to other problems such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes.
Look for food adjusted for senior dogs and keep up with sufficient exercise.
While your dog might not be able to walk for hours, he might manage a few shorter walks a day. Many health problems can be prevented or delayed!
6) Kidney disease
This is another problem that can come with age. Kidney disease is often diagnosed at the vet’s office, so it’s important to take your dog for regular check-ups.
While kidney disease cannot be completely cured, the veterinarian can prescribe medication that will improve and prolong your dog’s life.
Symptoms of kidney problems might include; Increased thirst and urination, incontinence, loss of appetite, and vomiting.
Incontinence might be linked to kidney issues or not. It can also be caused simply due to aging muscles, organs, and other structures of the body.
With increased age, offer your dog more opportunities to relieve himself (a few short walks a day).
In the case of incontinence, always check with the vet, to cross out the possibility of kidney disease.
7) Benign tumors, and more dangerous tumors (cancer)
With age, your dog might develop a tumor. The good news is, that many tumors are not cancer. Dogs can develop benign moles, fatty tumors, and warts. These usually don’t require removal, unless they are getting in the way.
Any new structure should be examined with the veterinarian to rule out cancer. A biopsy is usually performed.
Senior dogs can also develop cancer. If the cancer is discovered earlier, your dog will have better chances of getting better.
What are the symptoms that can show you something that might be wrong?
Your dog can lose weight, have weird lumps/bumps on the body. Digestive problems ( diarrhea, constipation, blood in the stool). Excessive drooling, coughing, and/or panting. Slowly healing sores (can also mean diabetes).
Arthritis is the inflammation of joints. It can impact hips, knees, shoulders, and elbows. The most common symptoms are; difficulty walking or standing up, stiffness, limping, pain when being picked up, avoiding stairs, avoiding walks, swelling of the joints.
The good news is, there are ways to help.
Proper diet and exercise can improve it. The latest treatments with stem cell therapy in dogs have also been very successful (ask your vet).
Adding anti-inflammatory agents into your dog’s diet can help a lot.
These include; sweet potatoes, carrots, fish oil, and also turmeric. Turmeric in small amounts is safe for dogs and cats and can reduce inflammation in the body.
9) Cognitive problems, Dementia
Many dogs can experience cognitive problems with age. Keeping them on a healthy diet can delay or help to prevent these issues.
Including healthy supplements in their diet, such as; fish oil, coconut oil, and turmeric, can be very beneficial.
Dementia in dogs cannot be cured but can be helped with the mentioned above and prescribed medication.
It does tend to worsen over time (as the dog ages more).
Some symptoms to look for:
The dog is confused and disoriented. They like to be alone and can start avoiding the family. Accidents in the house (popping and peeing inside). Excess vocalization. Being restless, and changes in sleep patterns.
However, these symptoms might not be dementia. Some of them can also be signs of diabetes, tumors, deafness, blindness, or other underlying health issues.
Never assume anything, the best is to get your dog checked by a vet, to see what is really going on.
Many conditions can be helped, and the quality of life improved.
10) Heart Disease
Dogs can suffer from heart disease for many different reasons. It can be due to aging, parasites, or different diseases. Many dogs can develop heart disease with age, but some breeds are more prone to it.
The most common symptoms include; lethargy, heavy panting and coughing, and intolerance to exercise.
Regular check-ups with the vet will help determine and pinpoint what is really going on with your dog.