May 19, 2010

How to Care for Aging Dogs

Filed under: age of dogs,dog age,Dog health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 6:25 pm

Age advances whether you are talking about humans, birds, cats or dogs.  As we get older, we become more susceptible to illness and we endure the natural degeneration of various body systems.  Proper care for an aging dog ensures that your beloved pet can enjoy the last years of his life comfortably.  Moreover, certain behaviors can even extend the life of your pet; for example, it is important that your dog is fed a healthy diet and gets lots of exercise.

As dogs age, they often develop special health needs.  Decreased activity level, increased sleep, and less excitement are all signs that your dog is starting to age. In addition, older dogs tend to be more sensitive to extreme temperatures; they may suffer hearing loss; and their skin and coat may change color.  In fact, many of the signs of aging in humans are quite similar to the signs of aging in dogs.  As your dog’s age advances, you can help ease the transition while also stressing the importance of regular exercise.

Still, you will need to consider the fitness of your dog as age advances.  Walks or runs will become shorter and your dog is likely to suffer from some muscle stiffness in his senior years.  Early in the morning you’ll want to give your dog plenty of time to stretch out and work out any stiffness.  Also, as your dog gets older, he will probably have more difficulty climbing stairs or getting in and out of cars so you will have to provide assistance.  Try to give your dog a comfortable bed to prevent unnecessary muscle pain.

As dogs get older, their skin and coat tends to dry out as well.  You can find some great moisturizing shampoos at the local pet store to help stimulate the production of oils.  Regular brushing can also help keep your dog’s coat healthy.  Generally speaking, you want to make your dog as comfortable as possible so he can enjoy his final years.

February 9, 2010

What are dog years?

Filed under: age of dogs,dog age,dog years,human years — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:26 am

Dog years. We’ve all heard people talk about them or tried to figure out our dog’s age in “dog years” but do we really know what dog years are? One of the oldest rules of thumb is that one dog year is equivalent to seven human years, although this isn’t exactly accurate. The idea behind talking about dog years is to recognize that the stages of a dog’s life including childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, will occur at different periods because their life spans are much shorter than humans. Imagine talking about a 2 year old human going through puberty. The idea is ridiculous; but, strictly speaking, dogs tend to experience the hormonal changes we associate with puberty somewhere between 8 months and 2 years depending on the breed.

dog yearsYet converting from dog years to human years and vice versa isn’t a direct ratio as the one human year is seven dog years theory. In fact, the ratio is slightly skewed with the figure being higher in youth and decreases as your dog’s age. Nevertheless, since a dog’s lifespan is a fraction of a human lifespan we try to determine dog years so we can predict the kinds of life changes that will occur.

So, how can you calculate your dog’s age in dog years? Unfortunately, there is no perfect answer to that question. In fact, calculations of dog age will require a different formula depending on the age and breed of your dog. A medium-sized dog of 2 months old is said to be about 2 years in human age while a 14 year old dog of the same breed would be 82. For all intents and purposes then, we use “dog years” to understand the developmental stage of our dogs but the term really has very little validity in the world of veterinarians.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.