So, At What Point is a Dog REALLY a Senior Dog?
Bo, the well-informed and highly-educated cat, or so he thinks: These days it seems as if everyone is hung up on age. No one wants to let go of their youthful appeal. Pets are no exception. I think I look quite splendid for my age (which for now will remain a mystery to anyone interested!), and I can still out-wit, out-perform, out-think, and out-last that dog Jessie who so happens to take up residence with me. However, there does come a time in a dog’s life that you have to consider him to be in the “senior” category. For the most part, any dog who is age seven or older should be considered middle-aged to senior-aged. This is a good time for a visit with the vet so assess the best overall health care program for your dog as that clock keeps ticking. (Remember! We cats have nine lives. I am not yet worried about my waning days!)
What can you expect as your dog “matures?” While each dog/breed is different, ther are certain things you may notice as your pet enters into the afternoon of its life:
- He may slow down. Notice any small changes in the way he gets up, lays down, or uses the stairs. Does he seem stiff or hesitant? Do changes in the weather have any affect on his agility?
- You may notice some gray hair around the face and muzzle. Most dogs begin to show gray hair at five to six years of age, which is considered middle-age for dogs. (Our friend, Bolt, a two-year-old Yorkie-Poo, is already sprouting gray hairs. He is black all over, so they are more noticeable, but we also suspect he is graying early as he has to deal with an overly-zealous Wheaten Terrier in household that just wears him slick!)
- Do you call your dog, and he does not seem to hear you? Does he become easily startled, or is it difficult to awaken him? Age-related hearing loss is common, but be sure to speak with your vet about it to rule out any underlying medical condition that could be causing it. (Or, in Jessie’s case, to rule out her penchant for selective hearing.)
- Look into your dog’s eyes. Do they appear cloudy or bluish in hue? As dogs age, their eyes may show a bluish transparent haze near the pupil area. This is normal, and it does not appear to affect overall vision. This is not to be confused with cataracts, however, which are white and opaque.
- As your dog ages, he will lose some muscles mass, particularly in the back legs.
What you will probably not notice as your dog ages is the abundance of love he has for you provided you happily return the favor in kind. The years rarely seem to have an affect on a dog’s ability to love us unconditionally.
Having said that, however, bear in mind that my relationship with Jessie is more of a love/hate affair. She loves to annoy me, and I hate to deal with it. At least we keep each other on our toes, which, in turn, keeps us alive and well!
(Thanks to vetmedicine.about.com for this useful information!)