Why is it that some relatively young dogs – say, 7 years old – seem tired and prone to physical ailments, while some fairly old dogs – 10 years old or more – are still spry and playful? The following article discusses older dogs and their specific needs, and when they might be considered “geriatric.”
If your adult dog’s behavior and general attitude are beginning to change, it may be due to the encroachment of advanced age. “But,” you may ask, “my dog is only 6 years old! They’re nowhere near their declining years!” Unfortunately, some dogs tend to age more quickly than others.
- Large breed dogs typically experience accelerated aging. Certain very large breeds tend to live only an average of 8 years.
- Small dogs have longer lifespans than larger breeds. Chihuahuas often live 18 years or more; Yorkshire terriers and Pomeranians live an average of 16 years.
- Health conditions – particularly obesity – can fast-track the aging process. It makes them vulnerable to disease and leads to joint deterioration.
Nevertheless, if your dog is growing more mature and their puppy-like rambunctiousness is diminishing, it doesn’t mean they no longer derive pleasure from different activities. While older dogs may be a bit more set in their ways than their younger counterparts, owning senior dogs is no less joyous. If you have a dog in their golden years who’s not as playful as they used to be, here are a few things to try that may help them become more engaged and energetic.
- Get your dog checked by the vet. Before you begin any change in routine, have a bloodwork checkup performed to see if their organs are still functioning within the prime range or if their age is affecting them. You can also have them checked for joint deterioration and other age-related conditions that may influence behaviors.
- Give your dog age-appropriate toys. Mature dogs like being intellectually challenged. Puzzle toys are fantastic for older dogs (who are probably less impressed by basic chew toys than they once were) because they are made to solve relatively complex problems. These toys can keep smart-yet-bored dogs entertained for hours!
- Tailor your dog’s exercise routine to their needs. While younger dogs need exercise and play primarily for energy expenditure, cardiovascular health, behavior management, and socialization, mature dogs need specific exercises to preserve muscle strength and offset physical limitations.
- Teach your dog new tricks! Your mature dog will not learn new tricks as quickly as they once did, but they’ll enjoy trying! They’ll love the attention, the treats, the affection, and the sense of accomplishment.
Nutrition is incredibly important for keeping your mature dog healthy and happy. Some of the best senior formulas are Pedigree, IAMS, Blue Buffalo, and Zignature dog food. DCM, obesity, diabetes, and other age-related and degenerative conditions are directly related to nutrition, so keeping your dog’s meals balanced and age-appropriate will help keep them young at heart for years to come.
To read more on topics like this, check out the health category.