There is no set age for when a dog is considered elderly (senior). However, veterinarians will refer to dogs as being senior when they are in their last third of their normal life expectancy. In general most small to medium-sized dogs are considered elderly when they reach 10 years of age and large dogs are considered elderly when they are around 6 or 7 years old.
Smaller dog breeds tend to live longer than the larger breeds ( HYPERLINK “http://www.my-dog.info/dog-care/elderly_dogs.asp” http://www.my-dog.info/dog-care/elderly_dogs.asp). Elderly dogs may require more attention than younger dogs (e.g. taken extra precautions to keep them safe due to loss of eye sight), providing ramps in areas with stairs, special diets, etc. ( HYPERLINK “http://www.my-dog.info/dog-care/elderly_dogs.asp” http://www.my-dog.info/dog-care/elderly_dogs.asp). If your veteran dog has special health needs regular veterinary visits and medications may be necessary.
Dogs experience gradual mental and physical changes as they grow older. Declination of mental capacity may be observed if dogs are senile, disoriented, or non-responsive to their owners. They may also become agitated or start barking for no particular reason. To maintain a healthy mental state stimulation via exercise and training is recommended.
Declination of physical capacity may be observed if dogs are less active due to such conditions as arthritis and having less energy. There is also a possibility for older dogs to loose their senses. Exercise not only provides mental stimulation but it also keeps muscles strong, helps with blood circulation, and keeps the digestive tract working.
The most common physical sign of aging is dental/gum disease. These changes are normal and should be expected. There are some conditions that warrant veterinarian consultation, such as changes in breathing, changes in fur quality, increase in thirst and urination, pain, and/or weight loss ( HYPERLINK “http://www.pets.ca/pettips/pet-tip-141.htm” http://www.pets.ca/pettips/pet-tip-141.htm).