When calculating how a dog’s age, it has always been generalized by saying that a human year corresponds to seven canines, however, this rule varies depending on race and size, and a series of characteristic physical and behavioral changes occur.
The life expectancy of an average dog is approximately 12 years, although this figure varies depending on physical, genetic, environmental, or nutritional factors, among many others.
When qualifying these animals as older, regardless of size, the owners tend to be confused. While they consider that a dog ages seven or nine years, most veterinarians advance this figure to five or seven. To determine this age, experts look at a series of changes in both appearance and behavior.
Signs of understanding how the dog’s age
- Changes in coat color. As with humans, the appearance of gray hair is one of the most notable signs of aging. Usually, this grayish fur is concentrated in the snout and around the eyes.
- Changes in the eyes. The loss of vision, which can culminate in cataracts, is accompanied by ocular sinking, the presence of brown spots, or other morphological alterations in front of the healthy eyes of youth.
- Weight fluctuation. Although the decrease in activity may contribute to weight gain, usually there is a loss of it. The reason is the lower appetite of the animal that leads to reduce intake and frequency of this.
- Changes in urinary behavior. The inability to contain urine does not have to be punished, as it is another symptom that the dog is aging. At the same time, food decline can cause chronic constipation.
- Apathy. Physical pain or lack of energy can lead to animal isolation. Thus, dogs that do not want to be disturbed by other members of the household tend to hide or resort to naps longer than usual.
- Aggressive behavior. The irritable tone is usually combined with violent reactions if the animal is resentful in its ailments. Also, the fear factor increases with old age and leads to disproportionate responses to protect themselves.
- Disorientation and repetitive behaviors. Forgetting and other mental disorders can lead to tripping, the appearance of nervous tics, or other abnormalities.
Palliative tips for owners
Although the passage of time is an unquestionable reality, owners can contribute to the welfare of the pet in its last years.
In addition to conducting complete reviews at least once a year, it is essential to address food issues and physical activity adequately. How dogs age is directly related to the quality and quantity of care, they receive in the aspects that are most altered with old age.
Older dogs generally require less energy and less fat since their metabolic activity tends to decrease.
For this, many feed brands produce specific formulations that, in turn, increase the percentage of fiber to help fight constipation. The transition to the new adult diet, as in any other case, should always be gradual, and it must be verified that both the intake and the appearance of the stool are regular.
Although elderly dogs tend to be isolated, owners must do everything possible to seek their motivation. The exercise is necessary for the prevention of bone problems and muscular level, and contribute to their happiness and mental wellbeing.