What’s the Difference Between Mature and Senior Dogs?
Physiological condition, rather than chronological age, determines whether a dog is mature. Aging begins when the body's systems start to slow down, when cells deteriorate faster than the body can repair them. Though large breeds tend to age faster than smaller breeds, the mature years generally begin at around 7 years (5 years for large breeds). If you feed your dog a diet designed to address the nutritional needs of his age, you can best maintain his overall health and well-being.
As your dog ages, it is important to detect and address with his veterinarian the telltale signs of aging or disease: a dull, dry coat and flaky skin, joint stiffness, energy loss, weight gain, increased water intake, digestive problems, and frequent constipation. These signs, among others, may be caused either by normal wear-and-tear or perhaps by the onset of disease. In any case, detecting and addressing them early may give your dog a greater chance to stay active and healthy.
When and how your dog responds to the aging process has a lot to do with genetics and environment, but nutrition plays an equally important role. The quality of food and its ability to maintain and nourish your dog's cells can help promote a long, healthy life.
As your dog ages and his systems become less efficient, he relies increasingly on the food you provide to make up for his body's shortfalls. According to Michael Hayek, PhD, an IAMS research nutritionist who specializes in geriatric nutrition, 'Aging dogs need the same nutrients as younger dogs; however, the quantity or the way the nutrients are provided may change.'
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- adp_description_block185How to Keep Your Adult or Mature Dog’s Heart Healthy
About 10% of all dogs develop some form of heart disease during their lifetime, and that risk increases with their age. We know you want to keep their heart healthy because they keep your heart happy. Here are some ways you can help your dog’s ticker stay in tip-top shape.
Feed a healthy diet.
A healthy diet affects every part of your dog’s body, including their big loyal heart. Being overweight makes the heart work harder, so make sure they eat a healthy, nutritious diet every day. And keep those treats to a minimum — no matter how much they beg.
Make sure they get regular exercise.
Dogs dig cardio, and it’ll do your heart good, too. Whether you both prefer fetch, running, walks, surfing, whatever ... it’s all good as long as it gets your dog’s heart pumping.
Be a heartworm-hater.
Heartworms are nasty — and sometimes deadly — parasites that infect dogs through mosquito bites. Like their name suggests, they live and breed in a dog’s heart, lungs and blood vessels. Fortunately, there are a number of preventive medications your dog can take to keep them safe. Check with your vet for options that work best for you and your pup.
Brush your dog’s teeth.
Plaque, tartar and bacteria in your dog’s mouth can get into their bloodstream and cause heart issues. Brushing their teeth and giving occasional dental treats can help keep their smiles bright and hearts healthy.
Know the dog breeds most susceptible to heart disease.
Some breeds, such as Chihuahuas, miniature and toy poodles, boxers, English bulldogs and Great Danes, are more prone to heart disease. If your pet is one of these breeds, keep a watchful eye out for the signs of heart issues, and talk to your vet about possible preventive measures you can take.
Know the signs of heart disease in dogs.
Some symptoms of heart disease in dogs include:
- Frequent coughing
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of energy
- Tiring easily or not wanting to play or go for walks
- Changes in weight
- Trouble sleeping
- A swollen abdomen
However, these symptoms could be indicative of many health issues, so you should consult your vet to be sure.
Go to regular vet checkups.
One dog year is about five to seven people years, and a lot can happen in that time. Regular vet visits, especially for older dogs, can help identify problems early on so you can start treating them sooner.
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