If your dog is rounding the corner at 6 years of age, you may now own a senior (depending on the breed).
VCA, with over 750 hospitals and 4700+ Primary Care Veterinarians explains it this way:
- Pets age at a faster rate than people. It is a popular misconception that one calendar year equates to seven years in a dog’s life. In actual fact, in one calendar year a dog may age the equivalent of four to fifteen years in a human’s life. The reason for this dramatic difference is that puppies reach maturity very quickly, and are essentially adolescents or young adults by a year of age – thus they are considered to be the equivalent of a 15 year old by their first birthday. During the second year, the rate of aging slows down a little so that the average dog is considered to be the equivalent of a 24-25 year old by their second birthday. After that, the rate of aging is estimated to be 4-5 dog years per calendar year, depending on the size and breed. Large breed dogs age relatively more quickly than small breed dogs. By the time your dog reaches its 6th birthday, it will be either middle-aged (if a small or medium breed dog) or geriatric (if a large breed dog).
The biggest favor you can offer your dog is to schedule Veterinary well exams at least once per year, if not semi-annually for seniors. A well exam is more comprehensive than your typical vaccination visit.
A wellness examination is a complete physical assessment with diagnostic testing that may include blood work, x-rays, urinalysis, and checking a stool sample for parasites. Special equipment is used to listen to heart and lungs, examine ears and eyes and check vital signs. Blood tests may include a complete blood cell count and chemistry panels to test for possible anemia, infection or organ disease. Blood chemistry tests are critical in order to evaluate how your dog’s body organs are functioning. Early detection of an underlying condition will help add years to your dog’s life.
It’s important to carefully monitor your senior dog’s health and keep him active and mentally stimulated, while also instituting appropriate dietary adjustments as he ages.
Many senior dog conditions can be mitigated by simple dietary changes, including adding daily dog food and joint supplements. Visit our Pet Store for supplements sold by Pet Wellbeing and Goodboy @ www.doolittlesdoghouse.com/shop
A pet insurance plan should also be considered as part of your pet’s wellness program, for all of your dog’s life stages.
We endorse Embrace Pet Insurance as an affiliate marketer. Embrace is one of the few pet insurance companies that offer a wellness plan. Their Wellness Rewards program is a flexible routine care plan that reimburses for everyday veterinary, training, and grooming costs and worth a look. Visit our Pet Store page for a link to their website and plan options @ www.doolittlesdoghouse.com/shop.
A senior well exam is more important than maintaining certain vaccinations. Some vaccinations may be unnecessary for your senior dog. Talk to your Vet about the necessity of Parvo/Distemper shots past the age of 10. At this age, Doolittle’s Doghouse believes your dog is sufficiently immune to the risk of Parvo/Distemper so do not require it for our cage-free boarding service.
Additionally, after the age of 2, these same vaccinations can be administered every 3 years (vs. annually). Consider the suggestion from the American Veterinary Medical Association:
- Many vaccinations provide adequate immunity when administered every few years, while others require more frequent schedules to maintain an acceptable level of immunity that will continually protect your pet.
An example of more frequent and optional vaccinations might include Bordetella (if your dog is active in public places such as a dog park or doggie day-care facilities) and/or Leptospirosis (if exposed to wet lands, forests, soggy golf courses or anywhere a disease-carrying animal might infect local water sources). Bordetella and Leptospirosis are considered “lifestyle” vaccinations and specific to your dog’s exposure to other dogs and unique terrain.
Dogs with suppressed immune systems or existing health conditions require case-by-case consideration, wherein some or all vaccinations could be more harmful than beneficial.
Early diagnosis of potential health conditions will make the difference in adding years to your dog’s life.
It’s easy to miss the subtle signs of “senioritis” until symptoms present which sometimes require an unplanned, emergency vet visit. Dogs are very good at masking their pain. If you notice unusual vocalization, excessive panting, atypical pacing, disorientation, body tremors, lethargy or inability to get comfortable or rest peacefully, your dog is telling you something. If the vocalization becomes a howl, your dog is in serious pain.
Decreased eyesight and hearing is a natural aging condition for many dogs, along with newly developed lumps and bumps that are most likely benign; yet should be analyzed by your Vet.
Compromised mobility is common in seniors. If your dog isn’t climbing the stairs, walking as far, has trouble getting up or down or slips on slick floor surfaces, anti-inflammatories and/or joint supplements can help; if not adding a few rugs and soft pet beds on hard-floor surfaces to help their navigation and comfort.
CBD for pets is also gaining popularity in providing relief for older dogs with stiff joints, periodic lameness, inflammation and arthritis. CBD is also being used as an alternative supplement for pets with pain and anxiety. For more information about CBD, read our blog @ https://doolittlesdoghouse.com/the-abcs-of-cbd/
Exercise is still important for your senior dog, however moderated for his ability. This helps maintain a healthy body weight as overweight dogs suffer from a number of health problems.
You want to develop a meaningful relationship with your family Veterinarian, as they will be your dog’s other partner throughout his life.
What to look for when choosing a Veterinarian:
Word of mouth, via friends, neighbors, rescue groups and breed-specific organizations is a great way to canvas recommendations.
A warm and friendly staff is important. How you are treated on the phone and in their office will dictate how your dog is treated. Your vet should be calm and able to put your dog at ease. Consider your dog’s perspective when visiting a vet. Those unique medicinal smells, other anxious dogs pacing and panting in the lobby and sick dogs barking and whining in the background does not yield a “yippee I’m glad to be here” reaction. A good vet will know how to manage your dog’s stress. Difficult subjects, such as cancer care, chronic disease planning, when to spay or neuter and peaceful passing are best discussed with a vet who cares more about your dog’s quality of life than their rent payment.
Doolittle’s Doghouse promotes affordable pampered pet care for dogs and cats of all ages and stages in their life. We share the same devotion to your pets as you do.
Please call us for loving, cage-free dog boarding in our private homes or in yours. We’re happy to recommend a good Veterinarian in your area also!
Photo attribution: Terrance Raper on unsplash.com