At What Age is a Dog Considered a Senior?

Long-haired daschund looking at camera with head tilted

Your dog has a different life span than humans do, so it can be quite difficult to know exactly when your dog has entered a new stage in their life as a “senior” dog. However, it is important to pay attention to signs of ageing as this life stage can bring on the risk of age-related health challenges and opens up new opportunities for you to optimize your dog’s nutrition. Read on to learn at what age dogs are typically considered a senior and how to recognize signs of ageing in your pet. 

At What Age is a Dog Considered a Senior?

All dogs age differently, so it can be hard to discern at exactly what age a dog is considered a senior. However, it is typical for your dog to experience some internal changes around the age of seven, even if they are not showing any external signs of ageing. Around the age of seven is when you may want to think about switching them to a senior dog food. 

Signs of Older Age in Dogs

To help you better understand if your dog has reached senior status, here is a list of signs of ageing to look out for. 

1. Pay Attention to Their Skin and Coat

Just like in humans, senior dogs’ digestive systems are less efficient in digesting and absorbing nutrients from their meals, such as fats and other skin-essential nutrients. As such, you may start to notice that your dog has:

  • Grey hair, typically occurring on the muzzle and around the eyes 
  • Dryer, coarser hair and/or a thinner coat 
  • Wrinkles in the skin
  • Brittle texture in the toenails 

2. Monitor for Hearing and Vision Changes

Have you noticed that your dog has stopped responding to your commands, or that it takes longer for them to understand what you’re saying? Senior dogs often experience a gradual loss of hearing. Senior dogs can also develop cataracts and other eye problems. Pay attention to whether your dog is bumping into things when walking, and look into their eyes for signs of cloudiness. 

3. Watch for Reduced Mobility

Senior dogs might show reduced mobility. Early stages of osteoarthritis may be one of the underlying reasons for reduced mobility. Look for common symptoms like limping, walking slowly, refusing to walk up or down steps and lack of appetite.

What are the signs of some age-related health problems in senior dogs?

The best way to spot problems is to know what to look for. Pay attention to abnormal changes like disorientation, reduced social interaction, loss of house training, changes in the sleep-wake cycle, pacing, confusion, barking or crying at night, lack of appetite and sudden aggression. These can be signs of many problems, whether physical or cognitive.

What should I do if I see these changes in behaviour?

The first thing to do is to pay attention and take note of what you see. These changes can be subtle. The more you can spot problems in advance, the better your chances are of getting your dog proactive care before a problem has a chance to get worse. Consult your veterinarian as soon as a problem surfaces so that you can get the most accurate possible diagnosis.

Senior Dogs are as Loveable as Ever

While a dog is considered a senior around the age of seven, most dogs may live well into their teens. With the proper nutrition and care, you can help your dog live many more happy days with you and your family.

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