ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What To Expect With Having A Senior Dog

Updated on October 30, 2017
Bob Bamberg profile image

Bob has been in the pet supply business and writing about pets, livestock, and wildlife in a career that spans three decades.


A Lot More Is Now Known About Aging In Pets

A generation or two ago, most folks wouldn't have given much thought to the needs of their aging pets. They got old and died, or they got old and incapacitated, and we put them to sleep.

It's as if we resigned ourselves to the fact that "that's the way it is and nothing can be done about it."

Today, things are different. We've seen tremendous advances in animal health care, and in the amount of attention given to the aging aspect of pet ownership.

Animals are living much longer now because of advances in nutrition and veterinary care, and because owners are taking a more active role in their dogs' lives.

Health problems of elderly pets are often similar to those of elderly humans. They're susceptible to heart and kidney disease, problems of the skeletal system, nutritional concerns, and certain kinds of cancers.

Researchers have even detected plaques (lesions) in the brains of elderly dogs that resemble those found in Alzheimer's disease in humans.

Known as Canine Geriatric Cognitive Disorder or Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, the disease is characterized by a variety of symptoms.

Owners of elderly dogs should watch for failure to respond to commands, disorientation, failure to recognize familiar faces and places, decreased awareness of surroundings, uncharacteristic vocalizations, compulsive behavior such as pacing and circling, and inappropriate elimination.

And today's geriatric companion animals have the benefit of owners who are increasingly aware of their pets' health and who seek treatment at the first sign of a problem.

Identifying the first sign of a problem is no easy task, I might add. Animals instinctively mask symptoms of illness or injury because in their world, if you're sick or injured, you're vulnerable to predation or domination.

They don't always understand that they're among friends, so they often conceal signs.

Be Proactive In Supporting Your Senior Pet

What can you do to support good health in your older dog? Well, certainly proper nutrition is the cornerstone. But don't be too quick to switch to a "senior" diet when your dog reaches six or seven years of age.

There is no standardized definition of a "senior" diet, so it's whatever the food manufacturer says it is. And it may not be appropriate for your dog.

Make sure the diet fits the lifestyle and body condition of the animal, which goes hand in hand with weight maintenance.

Some senior dogs are couch potatoes, others are still very active. Let that be your guide and select a food that fits those criteria.

Don't over-feed, be cautious about giving human food (some of it is toxic to animals), and provide plenty of opportunities for exercise.

It's important to make sure immunizations are up to date. Vaccination protocols vary among professionals, and many pet owners have developed issues with them, so it would be wise to discuss a vaccination program with your vet.


Keep an eye on your pet's dental health, too. Regular tooth brushing, dental checks, and proper diet will help prevent periodontal disease.

Several veterinary organizations consistently report that, by age three, 70% of dogs show signs of periodontal disease.

Left unchecked, periodontal disease has significant consequences including tooth loss and systemic problems of the heart, liver, lungs and kidneys.

Periodontal disease is irreversible, but it is also preventable.

Since pets age far quicker than humans, semi-annual check ups can detect problems earlier and facilitate more satisfactory outcomes.

And don't rely on the old "1 human year to 7 dog years" rule. The age comparison varies with the size of the dog.

For example, a 6 year old dog that weighs 20 pounds or less would be the approximate equivalent of a 40 year old human.

However, a 6 year old dog that weighs 90 pounds or more would be the approximate equivalent of a 49 year old human.

And don't forget mental stimulation, or what professionals refer to as environmental enrichment.

You can keep your pets mentally active by playing with them, teaching them new tricks, and providing interesting and challenging toys and treats.

© 2012 Bob Bamberg


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Bob Bamberg profile imageAUTHOR

      Bob Bamberg 

      6 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Obviously you're not dizzy, Ms Lizzy, but have impeccable judgement and exquisite taste in hubbage :)

      Thank you so much for the kind words, votes, and sharing. Our pets are living longer, and not all of them are feeble in their senior years...just like us humans. Sometimes we need to be reminded that senior dogs may still like to walk a couple of miles each day, and chase a ball for a while. Thanks for stopping by. Regards, Bob

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Awesome, sound advice! Thank you for putting this out there for everyone to see. I know there are many animal lovers here on Hub Pages, myself among them.

      This, however, deserves to be shared beyond, and I have done so.

      Voted up, interesting, awesome, useful and shared here and on Face Book.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)