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Dogs Age: The Effects of Aging on Dogs

The Effects of Aging on Dogs

Like us, dogs don’t stay young forever – they age. While some aspects of getting old may not be much fun, getting old is not all bad. Each stage of life has its joys, pleasures and drawbacks. Middle age for a dog, which is between 5 and 9 years of age, is a kind of gray zone during which the dog is busily engaged in the process of life without any particular physical or mental deterioration to hamper him. But somewhere towards the end of middle age, dogs start acting and feeling their age.

Signs of Old Age in Dogs

The effects of the aging process are both physical and mental. Physically, structural and functional changes occur in virtually all organ systems throughout the body, affecting vision, hearing, stamina, susceptibility to drugs and locomotor activity. Mental changes are secondary to decreasing brain size and a reduced number of brain cells. In some cases, canine Alzheimer-like changes hasten deterioration. Aging does not affect all dogs in precisely the same way. Some dog breeds, and some individuals, are more successful agers than others. Some dogs, at the age of 10 years, may have no noticeable physical or mental incapacitation. Others of the same age, however, are already handicapped by age-related internal organ failure, failing senses or orthopedic problems.

Age-Related Physical Changes/How Dogs Age

 

  • The Kidneys. Kidney function in dogs is often impaired in old age. With advancing age, blood flow to the kidneys decreases, there is a loss of filtering cells (nephrons), and impairment in resorptive processes in the nephrons. The result of all this is a failure of the kidneys to concentrate urine, so that older dogs with this type of deterioration will necessarily have to drink more and, consequently, produce larger amounts of more dilute urine. It is extremely important to make sure that such dogs have constant access to water so that they do not go into kidney failure. Some special kidney diets that contain low quantities of high quality protein can help sustain dogs in the borderline kidney failure.
  • The Liver. Although some tests of liver function show progressive deterioration with age, most dogs survive to a ripe old age without this loss affecting them in any noticeable way. However, in some dogs, fat accumulates in the liver, sometimes secondary to other diseases such as diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) and hyperadrenocorticism. This can result in an increased size of the liver with higher levels of liver enzymes in the blood. Liver cirrhosis is also a disease of the older dog because of its chronic and progressive nature.
  • Thyroid Glands. Hypothyroidism has been reported to be the most common endocrine disease in the dog. Most cases are breed-related, with an early onset (2 to 5 years), but in other instances, hypothyroidism does not cause problems until the dog is aged. Hypothyroidism will cause increased shedding, bilateral hair loss, a dry lusterless coat, increased susceptibility to infections, weight gain, and heat-seeking behavior, to name a few of the clinical signs.
  • Adrenal Glands. The adrenal glands are affected in various ways by aging. The glands produce hormones involved in the regulation of blood sugar, electrolytes and stress, and serve other functions. Elderly patients under continued stress can suffer adrenal exhaustion. The opposite, hyperadrenicorticism, is a relatively common endocrine disorder of middle aged and older dogs. The latter causes signs such as muscle weakness, potbelly, hair loss, increased thirst, and increased urine production. If hyperadrenocorticism is diagnosed, it can be treated.
  • Pancreas. Diabetes mellitus is usually a disease of the older dog. Complications associated with this disease include increased thirst and urine output, wasting away of muscle, and liver disease. This type of diabetes can be controlled using dietary control and insulin, if necessary.
  • Pituitary Gland. Reduced production of growth hormone is supposed to be one of the main reasons for the overall aging process. In people, but not yet in dogs, injections of a growth hormone are given to delay the aging process.
  • Musculoskeletal System. While young dogs appear strong, well-muscled and can run like the wind, older dogs usually show muscle wasting and are often handicapped by arthritis or intervertebral disc disease. Analgesics and, if indicated, various surgical procedures can bring many dogs relief.
  • Cardio-respiratory System. As you might expect, both components of the heart and lung system are affected adversely with increasing age. A particularly common cardiac disease of older dogs is one in which the margins of the heart valves thicken (endocardiosis). This condition leads to cardiac murmurs and, functionally, to cardiac insufficiency. Meanwhile, aging affects the lungs, such as thickening of the walls of the small airways, leading to reduced efficiency of gaseous exchange.
  • Special Senses. Dogs’ eyesight becomes poorer as they get older, due to age-related changes in the eye itself and in the processing of visual images centrally. The most common ocular aging change of all, lenticular sclerosis, in which the pupil of the eye appears grayish, does not significantly affect vision at all. Cataracts, however, which are also more common in elderly dogs, do impair vision, particularly when the dog is in bright light and his pupils are constricted.Dogs’ hearing deteriorates progressively with age so that many older dogs appear not to hear you when you issue commands, and they do not respond to outside sounds that formerly would have aroused them. Loss of hearing can be either peripheral, due to changes in the ear itself or, as with failure of vision, related to changes in central processing.
  • Central Nervous System. Dogs’ brain weight decreases with age primarily because of neuronal death in the cerebral hemispheres. Functionally, there is decreased production and increased destruction of central neurotransmitters. If canine cognitive dysfunction is involved, there are plaque-like accumulations of beta-amyloid in the brain.
  • Behavioral Changes. Because of general central nervous system changes mentioned above, dogs progressively slow down mentally as they age. They become less interested in things around them, less reactive to things going on, spend more time sleeping, and tend to walk whereas before they might have run. “Normal” aging changes in dogs are not usually incapacitating but merely produce a gradual decline in mental function, which can seem quite appropriate. Dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction, however, may become disoriented, have reduced interactions with people and other animals, suffer sleep disturbances, and eventually become incontinent. Affected dogs can be significantly helped by treatment with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor called seligiline [Anipryl ®]. Seligiline can produce a quick turnaround in the majority of dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction and stands to provide affected dogs with a better quality life and longer life expectancy.                             Dr. Nicholas Dodman

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

 

When is a Dog Considered Senior?

Pets age much faster than we do. The life span of a dog depends on its size or breed. In general, the larger the breed or size of the dog, the shorter the life span. For example, in a study of lifespans, only 13% of giant breed dogs lived to be over 10 years old. Conversely, 38% of small breed dogs live to be over 10 years of age.

Dogs are considered senior in the last 25% of their lives. Below is a list of the most common breeds with their life expectancies and age at which they are considered “senior”.

When your dog is senior, make sure they have a senior check-up with your veterinarian.

Breed Lifespan Senior Years
Affenpinscher 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Afghan Hound 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Airdale Terrier 10 – 13 years 7.5 – 10 years
Akita 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Alaskan Malamute 8 – 10 years 6 – 7.5 years
American Eskimo 13 years 9.5 – 10 years
American Foxhound 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
American Staffordshire Terrier 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
American Water Spaniel 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Anatolian Sheepdog 12 – 13 years 9 – 10 years
Australian Cattle Dog 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Australian Shepherd 12 – 13 years 9 – 10 years
Australian Terrier 15 years 11 years
Basenji 13 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Basset Hound 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Beagle 14 – 15 years 10.5 – 11 years
Bearded Collie 10 – 13 years 7.5 – 10 years
Beauceron 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Bedlington Terrier 13 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Belgian Malinois 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Belgian Sheepdog 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Belgian Tervuren 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Bernese Mountain Dog 8 – 10 years 6 – 7.5 years
Bichon Frise 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Black and Tan Coonhound 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Black Russian Terrier 10 – 11 years 7.5 – 8 years
Bloodhound 9 – 11 years 6.5 – 8 years
Border collie 11 – 14 years 8 – 10.5 years
Border Terrier 13 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Borzoi 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Boston Terrier 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years
Bouvier Des Flandres 8 – 10 years 6.5 – 7.5 years
Boxer 9 – 11 years 6.5 – 8 years
Briard 10 – 13 years 7.5 – 10 years
Brittany 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Brussels Griffon 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Bull Dog 8 – 10 years 6 – 7.5 years
Bull Terrier 14 – 15 years 10.5 – 11 years
Bullmastiff 8 – 10 years 6 – 7.5 years
Cairn Terrier 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years
Canaan Dog 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Cardigan Welsh Corgi 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 12 years 9 years
Chesapeake Bay Retriever 12 – 13 years 9 – 10 years
Chihuahua 15 – 18 years 11 – 13 years
Chinese Crested 12 – 16 years 9 – 12 years
Chinese Shar Pei 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Chow Chow 9 – 11 years 6.5 – 8 years
Clumber Spaniel 12 – 13 years 9 – 10 years
Cocker Spaniel-American 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years
Cocker Spaniel-English 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years
Collie 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Curly Coated Retriever 8 – 12 years 6 – 9 years
Breed Lifespan Senior Years
Dachshund 15 – 18 years 11 – 13 years
Dalmatian 10 – 13 years 7.5 – 10 years
Dandie Dinmont Terrier 13 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Doberman Pinscher 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
English Foxhound 10 years 7.5 – 10.5 years
English Setter 10 – 14 years 7.5 – 10.5 years
English Springer Spaniel 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
English Toy Spaniel 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Field Spaniel 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Finnish Spitz 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Flat Coated Retriever 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Fox Terrier – Smooth 13 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Fox Terrier – Wirehair 13 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
French Bulldog 9 – 11 years 6.5 – 8 years
German Pinscher 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
German Shepherd Dog 10 – 13 years 7.5 – 10 years
German Shorthaired Pointer 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
German Wirehaired Pointer 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Giant Schnauzer 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Glen Imaal Terrier 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Golden Retriever 10 – 13 years 7.5 – 10 years
Gordon Setter 12 – 13 years 9 – 10 years
Great Dane 9 – 10 years 6.5 – 7.5 years
Great Pyrenees 8 – 10 years 6 – 7.5 years
Great Swiss Mountain Dog 10 – 13 years 7.5 – 10 years
Greyhound 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Harrier 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Havanese 13 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Ibizan Hound 12 years 9 years
Irish Setter 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years
Irish Terrier 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Irish Water spaniel 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Irish Wolfhound 6 – 8 years 4.5 – 6 years
Italian Greyhound 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Japanese Chin 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Keeshond 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Kerry Blue Terrier 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years
Komondor 12 years 9 – 11 years
Kuvasz 11 – 14 years 8 – 10.5 years
Labrador Retriever 10 – 13 years 7.5 – 10 years
Lakeland Terrier 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Lhasa Apso 15 years 11 years
Lowchen 10 – 15 years 7.5 – 11 years
Maltese 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years
Manchester Terrier – Standard & Toy 13 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Mastiff 8 – 10 years 6 – 7.5 years
Miniature Bull Terrier 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Miniature Pinscher 15 years 11 years
Miniature Schnauzer 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years
Mix Breed – 1-15 pounds 15 – 18 years 11 – 13 years
Mix Breed – 16-40 pounds 11 – 14 years 8 – 10.5 years
Mix Breed – 41-75 pounds 8 – 13 years 6 – 9 years
Mix Breed >75 pounds 7 – 11 years 5 – 8 years
Breed Lifespan Senior Years
Neopolitan Mastiff 9 – 11 years 6.5 – 8 years
Newfoundland 7 – 10 years 5 – 7.5 years
Norfolk Terrier 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Norwegian Elkhound 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Norwich Terrier 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Old English Sheepdog 10 – 12 years 4.5 – 9 years
Otter Hound 12 years 9 years
Papillon 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Parson Russell Terrier 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years
Pekingese 13 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Pembroke welsh Corgi 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen 10 – 14 years 7.5 – 10.5 years
Pharaoh Hound 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Plott Hound 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Pointer 13 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Polish Lowland Sheepdog 13 – 14 years 9 -10.5 years
Pomeranian 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Poodle Miniature 15 – 18 years 11 – 13 years
Poodle Standard 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years
Poodle Toy 15 – 18 years 11 – 13 years
Portuguese Water Dog 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Pug 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Puli 12 – 16 years 9 – 12years
Redbone Coonhound 11 – 12 years 8 – 9 years
Rhodesian Ridgeback 8 – 12 years 6 – 9 years
Rottweiler 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Saint Bernard 8 – 10 years 6 – 7.5 years
Saluki 13 – 16 years 9 – 12 years
Samoyed 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Schipperke 15 years 11 years
Scottish Deerhound 11 – 12 years 8 – 9 years
Scottish Terrier 10 – 13 years 7.5 – 10 years
Sealyham Terrier 14 years 10.5 years
Shetland Sheepdog 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Shiba Inu 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Shih Tzu 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years
Siberian husky 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Silky Terrier 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Skye Terrier 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Soft – Coated Wheaten Terrier 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Spinone Italiano 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Staffordshire Bull Terrier 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Standard Schnauzer 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years
Sussex Spaniel 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Tibetan Mastiff 9 – 11 years 6.5 – 8 years
Tibetan Spaniel 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Tibetan Terrier 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Toy Fox Terrier 15 years 11 years
Vizsla 14 – 15 years 10.5 – 11 years
Weimaraner 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
Welsh Springer Spaniel 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Welsh Terrier 10 – 12 years 7.5 – 9 years
West Highland white Terrier 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years
Whippet 12 – 15 years 9 – 11 years
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon 12 – 14 years 9 – 10.5 years
Yorkshire Terrier 14 – 16 years 10.5 – 12 years

At what age is a puppy no longer considered a puppy?


Answer

Hi – thanks for your email. When a puppy becomes an adult depends on the size or breed of dog. There are no hard and fast rules.

For many, the 1-year mark is used as a time most dogs were considered to transition from puppies to adults. However, there are also some subtle variations based on breed or size. In general, smaller breeds are often mature more quickly than larger breeds.

Many toy or small breeds may be considered adults at 9 months to 1 year of age. Giant breeds are often not considered adults until about 18 months of age.

Some believe dogs are considered “adult” when they reach 80 to 90% of their adult weight.

A couple articles that might be helpful to you are What to Expect from Your 12-month-old Puppy and What Your 12-month-old Puppy Needs.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra Primovic – DVM

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372