The Geriatric (Older) Dog
Dogs mature and age at much different rates, usually according to size and breed. It is commonly held that dogs live 7 years for every year that we man does. However, this serve as only a rough guide when converting and calculating your dog's age as dogs grow up very rapidly in their early years and then slow down.
For example, a 1 year old dog is comparable to a 15 year old kid, at age 6, he is comparable to 40 years old in human terms. By 12, it is consider a geriatric dog and is equivalent to an 80 year old man.
It is generally believed that the smaller the dog breeds, the longer they live. Small breeds such as Terrier and Poodle may not slow down until 13 or 14 and could live to 17. On the other hand, larger breeds such as Great Dane and Wolfhounds rarely live pass 9 years.
A healthy diet for the older dog should be senior food that are formulated with low in fat and salt for a healthy heart, lower calories to help combat obesity since they are less active, lower protein to help the kidneys and liver, and higher fiber for the bowels to prevent constipation.
A switch to a specially formulated commercial diet for the older dog will usually perk him up. If you have no clues about your older dog's diet, you should consult your vet for advice.
You'll probably find that your older dog needs more medical attention than before because this is the time where age-related problems start to kick in. If possible, try to make more than just an annual visit to the vet and keep vaccinations up to date. A yearly geriatric screen, including blood and x-ray would also be useful to keep a closer eye on his health.
Patience is a key factor on your part when you deal with your beloved dog as he grows older. More often than not, he will develop age related problems such as tooth decay, periodontal diseases, vision impairment, hearing loss and also less active than before.
In any case, try to give them more time and understanding because they are not in their prime anymore. With enough love and care, older dogs can still continue their enjoyment of life well into old age.
Take good care of me when I get old. Someday you will be as old as me and you will see how it feels. ~ unknown dog
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