Your dog has been your friend and your companion for years, and you want to make sure his or her last few years are as happy and healthy as possible! When it comes to caring for your senior pet, you need to know what to expect as your pet gets older and how his or her needs are going to change—this allows you to recognize the difference between what is a normal aging change and what is a medical problem that needs to be addressed.
What to Expect as Your Dog Ages
When your dog is considered a senior citizen depends on the breed—large breeds (such as Great Danes and German Shepherds) are considered senior between 7 – 8 years of age, while smaller breeds (like toy poodles) aren’t considered seniors until their until their teen years. However, as a general rule of thumb, you can consider any dog older than 7-years-old as middle to senior aged.
Caring for your senior dog is very important, and it’s important to know what to expect as he or she gets older. Some general things to look out for include:
Graying fur – one of the most obvious signs of aging in your dog will most likely be the graying of the fur around the face and muzzle. Although this can happen early, it will usually begin to occur around 6 years of age.
Diminished hearing – many dog owners notice diminished hearing in their pet as he or she gets older. If your pet is hard to wake up from sleeping or gets startled easily when your approach from the rear, it’s possible that your dog is starting to lose hearing. Although there isn’t much that can be done about age-related hearing loss, you should schedule a vet exam to ensure it isn’t linked to some other medical cause, such as an infection or growth.
An important part of caring for senior dogs is protecting them from potential hazards. As your dog loses his or her hearing, it will be your responsibility to protect your pet from things such as cars, people, etc.
Slower movements – many dogs will slow down with age—you need to keep a close watch on how he or she gets up, lies down, uses the stairs, and other activities. Arthritis is particularly common among large breed dogs, and it can be incredibly uncomfortable and painful for your pet. There are a number of different medications and treatments (such as veterinary acupuncture) that can be used to treat the symptoms of arthritis, so bring your pet in at the first sign of slowing down. Our vets can determine what the cause is and create a proper treatment plan.
Cloudy eyes – have you noticed a cloudy, bluish haze over your dog’s eyes? This is a normal effect of aging, called lenticular sclerosis, and should not affect vision. However, if your pet’s vision does appear to be failing, visit Germantown Vet right away because the discoloration of the eyes could be cataracts.
Schedule a Visit with Germantown Vet
If your dog is over 7 years old, you should schedule an appointment with Germantown Vet to have his or her overall health assessed. No one knows your pet better than you, so when it comes to caring for your senior dog, you need to keep an eye on any changes in appearance or behavior. If you notice anything amiss, contact us to schedule an appointment!