Dogs are considered to be mature when they reach eight years old (or seven for some giant breeds) and understandably, this onset of middle age segueing into old age will bring about changes in your dog, just as elderly people tend to change both physically and mentally as they grow old.
While ten years might be approaching the end of life for some dogs, a great many dogs live well into their teens and even longer, and there might be plenty of life left in the old dog yet! If your dog is approaching their twilight years, it is a good idea to get to grips with what this might mean for your dog, and what to come to expect as they age further.
In this article, we will look at some of the core behaviours and changes that dogs face as they reach the ages of 8-10. Read on to learn more.
By the time your dog gets to be eight or older, the chances are that little will phase them, surprise them or shock them any more, as they have experienced the full range of life’s challenges and no longer view every day as a constant surprise! While there can be significant differences between the activity levels of different breeds, you can reasonably expect that by this age, your dog will be more chilled out and relaxed and calm than they were when they were younger, which in some cases can come as a welcome relief to their owners!
When your dog hits around 8-10 years old, you will begin to see some of the physical changes that come with the advancement of old age. The odd grey hair or lots of grey, changes to the texture of the coat and physical muscle mass are some of the physical changes, but one of the key differences is that your dog’s energy levels will not be what they used to, and your dog is likely to want to take things rather easier.
This may mean shorter or less energetic walks and play times, or that your old dog might tire faster. However, don’t put them out to pasture just yet- dogs of all ages still like to walk, play and explore, but you should account for your senior dog tiring more quickly and liking to sleep rather more than before.
Older dogs, like older people, tend to feel the cold more than youngsters, and for older dogs this can mean that they are less adept at being able to keep their own body temperature stable. Your dog may be more keen to seek out warm spots when the temperature drops, and may start to feel the cold more when out on walks as well.
Make sure that your dog is kept warm enough in the winter with a nice, well insulated cosy spot near to a radiator or fire, and think about your dog when you are out or asleep and may turn the heating off. You might also want to consider investing in a warm waterproof coat for your dog for walkies when it is cold, to allow them to stay comfortable and warm enough when they stretch their legs.
When your dog reaches maturity, you should re-address their normal feeding regime and change them over to a food that is a good fit for their age and life stage. Foods for mature dogs are usually lower in calories and protein than those for younger dogs, as your dog will tend to be less active and not burn off as much energy.
It is not uncommon for older dogs to lose a little weight and muscle mass as part of aging as they won’t be as fit, but also, easy for older dogs to run to fat and be at risk of obesity if they are still fed in the same way that they always have been.
Try to keep your dog active, and match their diet to their activity levels, and monitor their weight carefully to ensure that it remains within the appropriate parameters. It is also a good idea to get your vet to run a senior health check on your dog, and take their advice on how to feed and provide for your old pup’s nutritional needs.
As your dog gets older, they may potentially become affected by some common conditions of aging such as arthritis, aching bones and generalised stiffness, all of which may mean that your dog becomes a little grumpy from time to time, or less tolerant of play with other dogs or kids. Aging is not an excuse for poor canine manners, but do account for the fact that your dog is now an old guy, and ensure that they get their own space, plenty of chances to chill out, and that they are not constantly bothered.
Keep an eye out for health problems that can lead to discomfort and possible grumpy behaviour, such as arthritis and brain aging, and talk to your vet again about the best way to keep your dog comfortable well past the age of ten.