23 Feb, 2023
The life expectancy of dogs varies greatly depending on the breed type and the size. Large dogs typically have a shorter lifespan than smaller dogs, however, when your pup turns 7-8 years old, it is reaching at least middle age. For some larger dogs, this age represents their senior years. Even though your dog will always be an oversized puppy in your eyes, it is important to understand and recognize that certain physical and mental changes will occur as your dog gets older. Being a great pet parent means adjusting to your dog's needs as they grow older, and this article will cover some essential changes you can expect to see.
If you have not noticed this already, your dog's fur has likely begun to turn gray in certain areas. This is a natural sign of aging, just like humans, and is nothing to worry about. The gray hairs on your pup will certainly make them appear older, and their behavior will match their disposition. No matter how energetic your dog once was, this is around the age when you will notice a slow down to varying degrees. While they may still be very eager to go on runs and exercise, you will see that their resting period will be extended, and they will begin to sleep more than they used to.
You may notice that your dog will be slightly slower to get up when you call their name and might be a bit slower when performing their trick routine that you both worked so hard to perfect. That being said, don't stop training them and attempting to teach them new tricks. Mental stimulation is crucial for the health of your dog. In order to remain strong, the brain must be exercised; training your dog is a great way to keep their brain stimulated. They may take longer to pick up new tricks like when they were puppies, but don't quit; they can still do it!
The quality of life that dog's have as they grow older is better than ever, thanks to the improvements in the healthcare and vet industries. If your dog is suffering from a medical condition at this age in their life, there are plenty of medications/treatments available that can either remove the illness or reduce its impact on your pup's quality of life. That said, noticing a medical condition in its early stages is the most important aspect of keeping your dog healthy. In addition, picking up on warning signals from your dog, such as irregular body language, excessive barking, howling, repeated vomiting, or any other indication that they are not themselves, should be brought to your vet's attention.
One of the biggest mistakes that dog owners make when their dog gets older is not adjusting their food intake. Your dog's metabolism is sure to have slowed down by this age, and they cannot eat as much as they used to without gaining weight. Obesity is a huge problem for dogs in their later years, as it predisposes them to various health problems, including arthritis, bone and joint problems, liver and heart conditions, and overheating. Keeping your dog healthy is the key to a happy and long-lasting life for them, so consult with your vet on how your dog's diet should change as they grow older.
Along with a potential diet change, your dog should remain physically active. This will help keep them strong and reduce their chances of gaining weight. Given that your dog may not have as much energy as it used to, finding a suitable playmate for them is very important. Using the DogPack app, you can easily find other dogs in your area that are the same size/age as your pup, so use this to your advantage when scheduling playdates!