The moment when a dog becomes a "senior" depends of numerous and varied factors. As it occurs with humans, genetics and other intrinsically related characteristics as well as external conditions and lifestyle must be considered as determinants of dog life expectancy. Aging is a process of constant adaptation to changes in both the environment and the internal functions that take place during the life cycle.
While it is not possible to change the genetical determinants of life span, by understanding the aging process, it is possible to control extrinsic agents to help dogs stay healthy longer.
The clearest sign that a dog is becoming older is a sustained reduction in activity levels. Even if the playful spirit is always present, they get tired easily and are prone to sleeping longer, which could lead to obesity. The loss of hearing and vision problems such as cataracts, makes dogs dog less able to foresee dangerous situations increasing the risk of accidents and injuries. Because of changes in their blood circulation and muscle tone, their skin reduces its elasticity and their coat may suffer deterioration with loss and whitening of the hair. Teeth and nails get weaker while all system are less strong. Musculoskeletal, immunologic, digestive and urinary systems changes can lead to weakness, infections, constipation, and incontinence respectively. The aging process is also a major risk factor for cancer, arthritis, joint conditions, diabetes, and heart or renal failure.
In 2010, Pusuke, a Shiva Inu mix dog was recognized by Guinness as the oldest dog alive with, verified, 26 years old. In December 2011, he died peacefully at 26 years and 9 months. However, the longest living dog that appeared in the Guinness book of world records was an Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey who was reported to have passed away in 1939 at 29 years old and a half after working as shepherd for nearly 20 years. Others unofficial very old dogs like Chilla, a mixed Australian Cattle-Labrador reportedly lived for 32 years. The age of Chilla triggered a research to assess longevity related with the Australian Cattle breed, which concluded that these dogs lives usually one year extra than other breeds. In correlation with breed, a large size in adulthood results in bigger breeds being considered seniors around five years old and living for at least 10-13 years while smaller pooches live over 15-16 years and are considered seniors only around the age of eight.
The capacity to maintain all body functions and minimize the effects of external changes could be improved by care, a very important factor in a dog's life-span. New discoveries in veterinary health such as vaccines and treatments have contributed to longer lives for our furry friends as well as an improved quality of life, even when facing health problems. However, love plays a major role in pooch's lifestyle. Care, exercise, and consideration can greatly help him endure the aging impact. Adapting a dog's lifestyle to the age process can not only contribute to retarding aging signs from manifesting themselves, but also prevent accident and injuries.
In order to meet a dog's changing needs linked to their older age, it is important to consider diets, exercise, and health care as well as any other issue that could contribute to making them more comfortable.
Dog's nutritional requirements are different according to their age and have led to the formulation of special foods in order to meet their growth needs during puppyhood, avoid overweight as the dog reaches the middle age, and reduce calories as well as to provide additional supplements in later years. Middle age is a crucial period in a dog's life where nutrition and exercise are the cornerstones that support and influence the length and quality of their senior years. Overweight not only increases the strain on muscles and bones, but can also result in health problems such as diabetes, and further complications. Dental problems can be eased by feeding your dog with soft food instead of dry food.
Maintaining a regular activity level of walking and playing is the most effective way of caring for the physical and mental well being of your dog while preventing obesity. A regular grooming routine of 15 minutes a day for brushing and flea comb can counteract the effects of aging on your dog's coat. Also, visiting the veterinarian for regular checkups helps to early illness diagnosis and detection.
Dogs are unconditional and loyal friends that never abandon their humans. Unfortunately, the opposite is not always true. Some heartwarming stories like Schoep's provide us with clear evidence that loyalty and appreciation are not only dog's endowment. However, some loyal furry friends are abandoned when they get older. Shelters are full of seniors dogs who were, and will be, wonderful pets. They usually wait longer for adoption, sometimes in vain. They are waiting for a loving and informed friend that could give them a home and the opportunity to have a peaceful and comfortable time.
|Schoep & john (www.highlighthollywood.com)|
Senior dogs is a broad issue that CosmoDoggyLand will be developing in future post with useful tips for all loyal humans out there whose four legged friend are getting older or who would like to provide love and care to aging pooches.
Labels: Breeds, Forever Young, The Perfect Match