We know every one year your dog lives is equal to seven human years, but what is considered “old” for a dog? Life expectancy varies by dog breed and size, but you can start calling your pooch a senior citizen at around age seven years. What can you expect when your dog reaches seven years or older? Here are a few general things to expect As for what age actually determines whether or not your dog can be considered a senior dog, that actually depends on the size of your dog. Generally, larger breeds hit their senior years around 6 to 7 years old, whereas smaller breeds generally reach the senior years in the mid teens. But, generally, around 7 years old, you can consider your dog a senior.
Gray hair. Humans aren’t the only ones who get gray hair as they age. Dogs too will get gray hair, mostly around the face and muzzle. Just like with brunette humans, graying dogs are much more noticeable in dogs with darker colored faces.
Hearing loss. The good news is that your dog won’t bark as much at passing cars and people approaching your home. The bad news is that it’s probably because he doesn’t hear them as well as he used to.
Weakened hind legs. Their hind legs will get weaker or atrophy somewhat as they age. This is usually about the time you need to consider using a ramp or pet stairs for your dog to get in/out of your car or up on your bed.
Cloudy eyes. Just like as humans age they often develop cataracts, so too do dogs tend to get a blue-transparent haze over their pupils. They may start to bump into things or not see food on the floor.
Moving more slowly. Your dog will tend to lie around more and nap longer when he’s older than when he was younger. He’ll also take longer to walk up and down stairs and walk more slowly when you take him for a walk.
At some point you may want to consider blocking off portions of your house that contain stairs. A baby gate works well for this. If your dog’s eyesight is failing, try not to rearrange or add any furniture that might become an obstacle for him. Shorten the walks with your dog and consider a harness instead of a collar to help reduce neck strain.
Because they don’t run as much when they’re older, their nails don’t wear down naturally, so you’ll want to keep his nails trimmed to prevent slipping. You’ll need to brush your dog more frequently in order to increase his circulation and help your dog's overall skin.
Sometimes you start to feel sad when your best friend starts to start showing signs of age. Keep in mind that your dog has been with you for many years, protected your family, played with you and kept you company, so he will need your understanding and care now more than ever.
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