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Getting older is a natural process that has complex effects on your dog’s body, particularly its metabolism.
As an owner, you often do not notice at first that the aging process has already started in your own dog, because aging begins very gradually.
However, there are a few things that can help you know that your dog is on the way to senior and some things you can do to slow the aging process in dogs.
Slow path to dog senior
Often times, certain changes in behavior and other signs can be seen in a dog that has slowly started to age. With the onset of aging, certain biological processes in the dog’s body change.
This can lead to various metabolic processes functioning poorly. At the same time, the susceptibility to certain diseases also increases. Of course, aging itself cannot be prevented.
However, it is possible to reduce the speed at which this natural process proceeds.
Appropriate prevention is especially important in order to support the health of your dog in the long term.
In order to increase the chances of successful treatment, should a disease occur, it should be recognized and treated as early as possible. Regular veterinary examinations are therefore an important part of comprehensive preventive care.
What does “old” actually mean in a dog?
A term like age is difficult to define universally, especially for dogs.
Usually smaller dogs have a longer life expectancy than larger dogs, and the natural aging process is correspondingly slower.
Larger dogs, however, often have a longer growth phase, but then age faster.
Breed characteristics also play a role, and of course the lifestyle and health of the individual dog. In general, one speaks of a mature dog from around the middle of the expected lifespan, and from around three quarters of the expected lifespan of a senior.
This is how your dog’s body changes with age
The aging process in dogs changes various processes throughout their body.
It is important to understand the individual biological aspects of aging, as they affect all organ systems and diseases can occur more quickly with a certain susceptibility or predisposition.
The dog is gaining weight
With age, dogs also tend to gain weight, the fat deposits usually increase, and the muscle mass decreases proportionally.
If your dog loses too much muscle mass, his mobility will suffer. This leads to a lower calorie consumption and, with the same energy intake, in turn, that your dog gains weight even faster.
To break this harmful cycle, it is advisable to regularly monitor your dog’s health and condition, to maintain a healthy body weight and to counteract the breakdown of muscles.
This also includes treating any pain quickly, as it can otherwise limit your dog’s mobility.
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The teeth get worse
The most common problem with dog dental health is dental plaque.
This can lead to inflammation of the gums and other infectious diseases such as periodontal disease .
This can go so far that the dog has difficulty eating because it is painful to chew.
Poor dental health promotes an increase in bacteria that not only cause bad breath, but can also spread throughout the body and damage other organs.
Because of the constant stress on the immune system from these bacteria, dogs are also more susceptible to other diseases.
Therefore, you should take care of your dog’s teeth throughout their life. However, this is all the more true the older the dog gets.
So if you are already getting your puppy used to regular dental care, this is a preventive measure that can help your dog for a lifetime.
And diet is also important in this context. In addition to the composition, the correct physical composition of dry food, i.e. the size, shape and hardness of the kibble, can also help to slow down plaque formation.
Digestion becomes slower
One of the possible consequences of getting older is that the muscles around the intestine slowly lose their basic tension and fewer digestive juices are formed.
This slows digestive transport overall, which can lead to constipation and subsequent diarrhea. Therefore, an appropriate diet is important as your dog gets older.
Since digestive performance and the efficiency of nutrient absorption in the intestine decrease with age.
It can take longer for your dog to get used to a change in diet, it can be advisable to switch to high-quality, easily digestible food in good time.
The performance of the immune system and senses decreases
Sooner or later, aging also weakens your dog’s immune system. As his natural defenses slowly wane, he inevitably becomes more susceptible to diseases.
This is not the only reason why activity is crucial for dogs that are getting older. If you notice that your dog is less alert or calmer than usual, you should see a veterinarian.
Early examination can help distinguish the inevitable effects of aging from other impairments and illnesses.
The aging process in dogs cannot be stopped
You can’t stop your dog from getting older. With the right care and a diet that is adapted to his needs, you can help him stay healthy even as a senior.
If you are unsure how to best support your aging dog and what food best suits his needs, your vet will be happy to help.
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