Older and Wiser: Care for the Aging Dog

If you’ve started to notice the patches of white and gray in your dog’s fur, you are reminded that our canine friends live much shorter lives than we do. Fortunately, as our knowledge about dogs and nutrition grows, we can help our beloved dogs live longer, and more importantly, healthier lives.

When Does Aging Begin?

Aging begins when cells break down faster than the dog’s body can repair or replace them. Exactly when this process starts will depend on your dog’s size. For example, smaller dogs tend to age more slowly and live longer than larger dogs. Generally though, a dog is considered to be “senior” in the last third of his expected lifespan. Each dog must be treated individually because other factors, like lifestyle, fitness level and chronic disease, can also impact the onset of aging.

Physical Signs of Aging
Aside from the white and gray spots that pop up, there are many other physical signs of aging in dogs. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Weight gain (often due to less activity)
  • Weight loss (often due to lack of appetite)
  • Nodules or lumps under skin
  • Loss of hearing (does not respond as quickly to voices or noises)
  • Loss of vision (hesitation on stairs may be due diminished sight or mobility)
  • Health problems like arthritis, dental disease (lost teeth or gum inflammation), heart disease (decreased exercise tolerance, weakness), reduced kidney function (increased water consumption and urination) or incontinence
How Can Nutrition Help Aging Dogs?

Mature and senior dogs have different dietary needs because their bodies and lifestyles are changing. These pets often become more sedentary, so they need a diet that has high protein and reduced calories to retain muscle mass while accounting for lower activity levels. They also need omega-3 fatty acids to help with inflammation and perhaps reduce some joint pain. Their diet should also include adequate levels of vitamins C, E and beta-carotene to get those antioxidant, immune-boosting effects.

Visit Your Vet

As your dog gets older, it’s important to visit your veterinarian regularly. Your vet will be able to track your dog’s progress and provide solutions to manage and minimize the symptoms of aging. 

We want your dog to live its healthiest life at every age. That’s why we’ve created special formulas for cats and dogs  to help support healthy aging. Visit RoyalCanin.com to learn more.