When is your dog a senior?
Dogs today live longer than they did decades ago. According to the American Veterinary Hospital Association, a dog that lived only eight years in the 1970s could live up to 15 years today.
He won’t be enjoying any discounts or be given a free pass for his curmudgeonly rants about kids today and their “music”, but your dog will definitely benefit from a little more awareness and attention on your part once he hits a certain age.
We hear the phrase “dog years” often, but the age of a pet is not always equivalent to between 5 and 7 human years, especially as they get older. When a dog is considered a “senior” depends on their size and weight as much as anything else. For example, a 10-year-old Chihuahua is about 56 in human years, while a 10-year-old Great Dane is about 78 in human years because large breed dogs age much faster than smaller breeds. This link is a veterinary chart that can provide you with more insight into how old your dog is in human years depending on its size.
Most large breed dogs will hit senior status at about seven years of age, and small breed dogs at about 12 years of age.
Aging might result in some new habits, like taking one stair at a time instead of bounding up two or taking a longer time to get up from lying down. In many cases, treatable health problems can also result in similar issues so new habits or behaviour should be discussed with your vet at your next appointment.
When to begin geriatric screening
Geriatric screening is a vet visit every six months, where your vet will perform an exam, blood tests and other testing depending on your dog’s individual health situation. This will allow you to catch anything as early as possible and keep a better eye on your dog’s health.
If your dog weighs over 80 pounds, you can start this screening between ages four and six. If your dog is under 15 pounds, it can wait until it is between nine and 11, or between seven and nine years of age if the dog is under 50 pounds. For dogs between 50 and 80 pounds, geriatric screening can be begin between ages six and eight.
If you have pet insurance and your dog is still a pup, many pet insurance companies will allow you to apply for more coverage as long as your dog is under five years of age. If your dog is young, you may want to consider getting more coverage while you can to help out with some of these additional pet care costs.
Keeping your dog healthy by managing its weight, making sure it gets plenty of exercise and incorporating geriatric screening into your routine can ensure that your dog gets the most out of his or her later years.