Source: Hindustan Times (Extract)
Posted: October 4, 2023

Dogs grow up really fast and before you realise they may already be coping with age-related changes in their body and mind.

The ageing in dogs also depends on their size and breed. A large breed dog may age when they are 6 years old while a small dog could turn senior when they are 7 or 10. Depending on their breed, you should pay close attention to your canine companion’s signs of ageing.

Your dog may become slow as they age and will lose strength. You will notice they may find it difficult climbing stairs or jumping. Since your furry companion may become less active in old age, they may also gain weight. Pet parents should connect with a veterinary expert to modify their diet accordingly. You may also notice changes in sleep pattern of your ageing dog. They may sleep more than they used to earlier.

“There are various signs that show our furry companions are aging – they undergo subtle yet significant changes that require our attention and extra care. Different breeds of dogs are considered senior at different ages. The process of aging begins slowly and nearly imperceptibly. To ensure comfort and well-being in their sunset years, it’s crucial to recognize the telltale signs that dogs exhibit,” says Dr Jiyaul Hoque, Senior Veterinarian at Mars Petcare.

Dr Hoque shares tell-tale signs of ageing in your dogs:

1. Change in demeanour

In general, the first signs of old age will appear between the eighth and tenth years. The head and muzzle might become grey, and he may experience a loss of sight and hearing. He will become less active, his metabolism will slow down and he might put on weight.

2. Change in dietary habits

In an aging dog, you may notice that their dietary habits have changed and they may be eating less or slowly. Hence, please visit your veterinarian and get a special diet for your dog.

A healthy diet consisting of nutrition-rich senior dog food can make all the difference in vitality as your dog deals with a slowing metabolism and a drop in energy. Ensure to include enough protein, fibre, and fat to balance the loss of body tissue, regularize healthy bowel, and maintain good vision, cognitive function, and a healthy coat. The adult dog food you pick must also contain omega 6, zinc, and a blend of magnesium and potassium. There are specialized foods available in the market that fulfil these requirements.

3. More sleeping hours

While an average adult dog spends a large part of his day sleeping, he’ll sleep even longer and more deeply as he turns into a senior. Considering this, always ensure that his sleeping conditions are always comfortable, warm, and cosy. Make sure that your dog’s sleeping area is located in a warm part of your home. Add a fleecy blanket and raised edging to his bed to protect him from drafts and chills.

4. They need more vet visits

As dogs age, It’s better to see your veterinarian on a regular basis for check-ups. Along with an annual or biannual exam, it is suggested that pet parents get yearly blood check-ups for their aged dogs. Particularly check your senior dog’s white and red blood cells and their kidney and liver function to make sure that they’re healthy. This is an easy way of being able to detect any kind of disease.

5. They need brain stimulation

Brain activities are crucial as physical exercise for your pet’s well-being. These keep their brain sharp with stimulating activities like hide-and-seek, and puzzle pet toys and treat them for winning activities. These exercise for the mind is key to keeping your dog in tip-top cognitive shape, and as a bonus, they’re a lot of fun for both of you.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet’s health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.