Old age is not a disease
As a result of advances in veterinary medicine, more knowledgeable care and improved nutrition, dogs are now living much longer, healthier lives. However, just as for humans the passage of time has its effects, and you may begin to notice that your once-frisky pet seems to have slowed down a bit. Being aware of the natural changes that can occur as your dog reaches his or their golden years, as well as what you can do to help keep your pet as healthy, active and comfortable as possible, can ensure that you both enjoy this final stage in your dog’s life to the fullest.
How and when will I know that my dog is getting “old”?
As dogs move into the geriatric phase of their lives, they experience gradual changes that are remarkably like those of aging humans: their hair turns grey, their bodies are not as limber and their reflexes are not as sharp as they once were. Hearing, eyesight and the sense of smell may deteriorate, and energy levels as well as attention spans, seem to diminish. In fact, the first sign of aging is often a general decrease in activity, combined with a tendency to sleep longer and more soundly. Such signs may begin to manifest themselves before the age of 8 years in large breeds like Great Danes, while smaller breeds can remain youthful until 12 years and even longer. Furthermore, a healthy dog will most likely age later than one that has been affected by disease or environmental problems early in life. Again, as with humans, the aging process will vary with the individual. Your veterinarian will be able to judge when it is time to consider your pet as a “senior”.