Some people can forget that dogs age like the human owners do, for some owners it seems like their dog transforms from a playful puppy to a senior dog almost instantly.  Older pets need special care so that they can be in good health and thrive in their old age.  The ASPCA has all of the aging information you need to understand the changes your pet is going through, but we can tell you the basic things you need to know.
 
How do I know if my dog is a senior?
 
This is the most common question people have about dogs and aging.  Most dogs enter their golden years between 7-10 years of age, and larger breeds tend to become seniors earlier than smaller breeds.   Just like with humans, pets can show signs of aging in a variety of ways.  One of the biggest signs of aging is sleeping more and tiring out quicker than usual.  Many breeds experience a graying of their coat when they age, and their graying is usually more prominent around the muzzle. Some dogs experience hearing loss and others may have a thinning coat. 
 
What health problems are more common in older dogs?
 
There are many health issues that are more common for older dogs.  Some problems can be easily managed and is not life threatening like hearing loss, but there are problems that can be more serious.  If you have an older dog, it's possible that they could develop:
  • kidney and liver disease
  • more frequent intestinal problems
  • prostate disease and testicular cancer
  • breast cancer and infected uterus
  • diabetes
  • arthritis and degenerative joint disease
  • cognitive problems
Since older dogs are more prone to health problems, regular vet check-ups are important for maintaining their health.  It's recommended that older dogs see their vet at least twice a year for a regular check-up and a thorough physical exam.
 
What can I do to make my dog more comfortable as they age?
 
There a variety of simple things that you can do to help make your older pet more comfortable at home.  Some older dogs have more trouble regulating their body temperature, so they should be kept warm, dry, and indoors when they aren't getting exercise or being taken for a walk.  If your pet develops arthritis, ask your vet about joint supplements for dogs your pet can take.  If your dog does develop joint problems, you may want to consider getting them an orthopedic bed to keep them comfortable while they sleep.