Here at Dogville, we have a great time celebrating birthdays with our canine guests and their people. We have party hats and decorations, special treats for the birthday girl or boy, and treats to share with their dog friends. It sounds simple, but believe me, putting party hats on wiggling dogs and getting those photographs you see on our Facebook page can be pretty challenging. If you could only see the outtakes! Truth be known, I think we have more fun than the dogs do!
All kidding aside, knowing your dog’s birthday is a serious matter. Dogs age so much faster than humans and that means we need to be vigilant about routine care and diet. Once dogs cross the aging threshold, metabolism begins to slow and dental care becomes much more significant to overall health. Age-related changes like osteoarthritis or obesity can happen rapidly. Lumps and bumps begin to appear out of nowhere in many breeds and hearing and vision deficits are common. So, what’s an owner to do?
For giant breeds like Great Danes, Mastiff and St. Bernards, the fifth birthday is probably the best time to make some changes. For medium to large breeds like Golden Retrievers, Schnauzers, Beagles and hounds, the seventh birthday is considered the aging threshold. Small and mini breeds like Doxies, Chihuahuas and Min Pins should be considered senior around the 9th year. Keep in mind that like people, not all dogs age at the same rate. Some individuals may be very active and show age related changes slower than others.
Here are some suggestions for supporting your dog through the transition to his or her senior years:
- Consider seeing your veterinarian every six months instead of annually. This provides an opportunity for a good physical exam by the doctor and better monitoring of age related changes.
- Consider making a dietary change to a good quality food or supplement for seniors with additives that promote joint health.
- Evaluate your dog’s mental and physical requirements for good health. Do you need to cut back on exercise or increase it? Are they getting enough time with other dogs or other people to maintain an appropriate level of socialization?
A well-cared for senior dog can have a wonderful healthy life and lots of birthday parties. We are here to help!