It's About Pets
Life Stages

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When Is My Dog a "Senior"?

A touch of gray on the chin or around the muzzle. Once-clear eyes becoming a little cloudy. A slight stiffness in what used to be a frisky gait. Any of these can be telltale signs that your canine best friend is entering the "golden" years.

Generally speaking, a dog 7 years old or beyond qualifies as a senior. This varies, however, with the size and breed of the dog. For instance, smaller dogs tend to have longer life spans than giant-breed dogs. Other factors affecting how dogs age include body weight, nutrition, environment, and overall health.

Dogs mature rapidly during the first two years of life, then again during the final third of their life span (5-7 years for every year of human life).

This process affects the level of professional veterinary care dogs need. Just as human infants require frequent well-baby checks, most puppies visit their veterinarians at least four times during their first year for "wellness" exams and required immunizations. This parallel repeats later in life; just like their aging human companions, senior dogs need an increased level of care as they become more vulnerable to multiple health problems and respond differently to stress, medication, and environmental factors.