Your Dog’s Health, from 1 to 8 Years
Your Dog’s Health, from 1 to 8 Years

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Your Dog’s Health, from 1 to 8 Years

Here's what you need to know about your dog’s health as he matures from 1 to 8 years:

Your dog is growing up. Louise Murray, DVM, director of the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and author of Vet Confidential (Ballantine, 2008), gives advice on how to keep your dog in tip-top shape.
 

Adult Dog Health: Preventive Health. Even if your dog appears fit, see your veterinarian once a year for a checkup. "Most health problems are more readily and less expensively addressed if you catch them early," Murray says. What's more, your vet can detect problems that you might miss. You can also stay up to date on vaccination boosters.
 

Adult Dog Health: Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Medicines. Continue to use preventive medicines. Talk to your veterinarian if you've moved or if your lifestyle has changed to make sure you are using the products best suited for your dog.
 

Adult Dog Health: Diet. Your pet needs the right food for optimal health. Check with your vet about adjusting the type and amount of food that your dog eats.
 

Adult Dog Health: Dental Health. If you haven't done so already, get in the habit of cleaning your dog's teeth daily. "Animals who get gingivitis or inflammation of the gums can end up with problems of the kidneys and the heart," Murray explains. Get your dog accustomed to having your fingers and hands around her mouth. At the pet store, you'll find dog toothbrushes and finger brushes as well as dog toothpaste.
 

Adult Dog Health: Weight Gain/Loss. When your dog steps on the scale at her annual visit, weight gain (rather than loss) is more likely to be the problem. Meals usually are not the culprit. It's the things, such as biscuits and human food, she gets in between. "It all adds up," Murray says. As your pet gets older, she becomes less active, which can contribute to weight gain and a host of other problems (diabetes, arthritis, and breathing trouble, for instance). But there's another reason to keep an eye on the scale: Weight loss might signal an underlying health problem.

  • Your Senior Dog’s Health from 7 Years On
    Your Senior Dog’s Health from 7 Years On

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    Your Senior Dog’s Health from 7 Years On

    Keeping Your Senior Dog Healthy and Active

    It depends on the breed of dog, but your pet's senior years generally begin at age 7. Louise Murray, DVM, director of the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and author of Vet Confidential (Ballantine, 2008), tells you what you need to know to keep your older dog spry and happy.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Preventive Health

    At this stage, Murray recommends taking your dog to the vet twice a year. "So much can happen to an elderly dog," she says. Your veterinarian can take blood annually to test liver and kidney functions. "Discovering problems early is extremely important," she says. Your vet can be on the lookout for conditions that often affect older dogs, such as anemia and arthritis.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Urination, Bowel Movements, and Appetite

    Pay attention to what might be subtle changes in your dog's habits: Is she drinking more water or urinating larger amounts? These behaviors might indicate a liver or kidney problem. Have your dog's bowel movements shifted? This could indicate a digestive issue. Diabetes or digestive problems might cause your dog to eat more but still lose weight. Knowing the dog's patterns can help the veterinarian determine a course of treatment.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Medicines

    Continue to use preventive medicines.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Dental Health

    Clean your dog's teeth daily. If she has tartar buildup, you might need to have her teeth professionally cleaned at your vet's office, which requires sedating your pet.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Exercise

    Your dog is probably less active, so steady, moderate exercise is best for her now. Don't turn her into a "weekend warrior" who, after lying around on weekdays, accompanies you on a 10-mile hike on Saturdays. This is especially hard on an older dog's joints.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Diet

    Your veterinarian might wish to put your dog on a senior diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Senior Plus. These formulations contain nutrients specifically geared toward older-dog health.

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