Well-cared for dogs age gracefully into their senior years. Like humans, those which had been properly nourished, and given tender loving care by their owners don’t suffer so much as they grew into their old age.
It’s normal to have physical changes in an ageing dog. Their coats become thinner and lose their luster. Their eyes become less clear and the pupils develop a bluish-grey or whitish color instead of dark black. They become less active because the muscles lose their usual agility.
Some aged dogs develop medical ailments especially if they encountered some problems before. For example, the kidney could finally give way to kidney infection if they had the same ailment while younger.
Behavioral change in dogs is a sign of aging. What used to be a very active and energetic pet may now seem lethargic which has no more drive to run and daily walks. The change is gradual and needs the understanding of the pet owner.
At this point in a dog’s life, he needs regular visits to a veterinarian for thorough check-ups. If there’s a need, he also must receive medications and supplements to help ease his affliction.
Here are warning signs that show the dog is already in his senior year and will need the attention of a veterinarian:
- Weight loss of approximately 10% of normal body weight
- Appetite change
- Frequent vomiting
- Blood in stool or urine (for male dogs)
- Change in urination pattern or incontinence
- Lethargy or physical weakness
- Hair loss
- Lump or bumps under the skin
- Bleeding of the gum, loss or breaking of teeth
- Continuous coughing
- Increase in water intake
- Loss of balance
- Withering or drying skin
Aging dogs’ usual illnesses are kidney disease, dental problems, heart disease, and hyperthyroidism.
The life expectancy of dogs vary depending on various factors. On the average, dogs can last until 14 or 15 years old, especially if they’re well cared for. Normally, smaller breeds live longer than dogs of large breeds. Puppies neutered before they reach six months of age live longer than those which are left intact.
Concerning sizes, small breeds that weigh less than twenty pounds reach their old age by around 12 years of age. Those weighing twenty to fifty pounds reach old age when they’re around 10 years old. Dogs weighing 50-90 pounds are considered old by 8-9 years old. Dogs weighing more than 90 pounds reach old age at around 8 years of age.
Life expectancy according to breed
Concerning breeds, Poodles, Cocker Spaniels and American Foxhounds can live as long as 20 years or longer, although the average life expectancy is 15-17 years old. For breeds with large and medium size, they’ve an average life span of 11-14 years. For giant dogs such as St. Bernards or Great Danes, they usually live for an average of 10 years. Although some may last until 13 or 14 years old, but that’s more exceptional than normal. So, enjoy your pet dog while he’s still around.
Thanks to friends at www.dog.com for the ideas for this article.