Senior

Featured articles

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Physical Changes

  • At 6-7 years, healthy dogs should still have bright clear eyes, good hearing and be lean and muscular.
  • For some giant breeds this age is considered quite elderly and you may notice some signs of ill health such as dental problems or loss of mobility.
  • Mobility issues are more common in larger breeds or overweight dogs and can be a sign of arthritis and other joint problems.
  • When dogs reach 8 years of age they are more likely to have health issues affecting sight and hearing, with eyes appearing less bright and clear.
  • Muscle mass may decrease, as older dogs exercise less and you may notice a change in their coats and a thinning of the skin due to certain diseases.
  • Cancers can also develop more commonly in older dogs.

Socialisation

  • As your dog gets older he is likely to become more 'settled down' which will be reflected in behaviour, especially on outings. Eventually they may become quite distant from humans and other dogs.
  • As they become more set in their ways they may become harder to train with antisocial behaviour harder to correct.
  • Exercise is still really important even well into old age, as keeping them physically fit will maintain their weight and overall health.
  • Much older dogs may be happy to spend time lying at your feet or just taking slow walks.
  • They may become senile and be restless, forgetting their name and obedience skills with poor mobility and bladder control.

Feeding

  • Dogs of 6-7 years should be on adult dog food, though a different diet is required for dogs older than this, due to a change in activity level and body tissue changes. Senior dog foods are available commercially.
  • Special diets may be required for dogs with more specific dietary needs e.g. foods for weight reduction, skin and food allergies, dog with joint problems.
  • Amount of food fed may vary depending on size of dog and level of activity
  • Treats should represent less than 5% of their daily dietary intake
  • Need plenty of fresh water, as always
  • Ensure the six nutrient groups are being served: proteins, fats and oils, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates and water. A good quality dog food will contain this – ask your vet clinic staff to assist in choosing the most appropriate dog food for your dog
  • Avoid feeding just before/after exercise as this can make your dog's stomach twist, which can be fatal
  • To prevent obesity, don't feed too much
  • A body condition score can be done by your vet to test their weight.

Vaccinations and other preventative treatments

  • At 6 or 7 years of age your dog should be having at least annual, but preferably 6-monthly check-ups. Some giant breeds may be regarded as senior at this age, so these dogs and dogs that are 8 years + will need more comprehensive and frequent checks of at least 6 months.
  • Checkups are important to monitor for parasites, respiratory problems, ear infections, tooth tartar and decay, and also any lumps or bumps that might be cancerous. They check eyesight and hearing and look for any other diseases that are more likely to occur in old age.
  • Groom your dog as required – the frequency of this will depend on your dog's coat; check for any skin lumps, bumps or growths as you do this
  • Keep an eye on changes in weight, appetite, coat quality and agility which might suggest underlying disease
  • Maintain heartworm, flea and worm prevention, and tick prevention in areas where they are a problem.
  • Booster vaccinations may be required - this will be assessed by your veterinarian at annual check-ups