Animals, People, & the Earth

Senior Dogs Enrich Our Lives

Older dogs make wonderful companions

Senior dogs make great companions – they know the ropes, they don’t require lots of attention, and they love a good snuggle. Although puppies tend to get all the attention, there is a lot to love about older dogs, too. Unfortunately, as dogs – like people – get older, they tend to be a little slower, have more health problems, and present some new challenges that their families have to deal with. But older dogs also have a long list of positive attributes and should be recognized for all the ways that they enhance our lives. This November, in honor of Adopt a Senior Pet Month, we want to show the love to all the senior dogs out there.

How Old is Old for Dogs?

Dogs don’t age like people think. The old adage that one human year equals seven dog years has been shown to be a misunderstanding of a dog’s aging process. In reality, dogs age more quickly when they are younger and then the aging process slows down when they get older. For example, the first year of a dog’s life is equivalent to about fifteen human years of aging, but by the time a dog is nearing seven-years-old, the equivalency slows down to about four years for every one human year. So, while a one-year-old dog is roughly equivalent in age to a human teenager, a seven-year-old dog is equivalent to a middle aged person. This is a better explanation of the reason why a dog’s life expectancy is shorter than a human’s. But even with a general life expectancy of around twelve years depending on size and breed, it is possible to have many quality years with a senior dog.

Qualities to Love in a Senior Dog

Senior dogs already know the ropes. Typically, an older dog knows what behaviors are expected of him and acts accordingly. Pet parents of older dogs don’t need to be as concerned about accidents in the house, chewed up furniture, pulling during walks, or overly energetic play times.

Pet parents also don’t need to worry as much about their older dogs when they can’t be home. With age comes experience, and senior dogs understand that when you leave, you’ll always be back. No separation anxiety means no coming home to anxiety induced damage to the house and no suffering for your pup when you need to be out.

Older dogs also love to curl up and snuggle. As dogs get older, they may have less energy, but they don’t have less love, making the senior years perfect for cuddling and bonding. And while bonding doesn’t happen overnight, sticking with your senior dog through thick and thin across the years breeds love, loyalty, and devotion and will enrich both your lives.

How to Care For a Senior Dog

At any age, good health starts with good nutrition. Make sure to feed your senior dog food that is especially formulated for the needs of a mature dog. Slowing down means older dogs need fewer calories, so go easy on the snacks and treats and help your dog to maintain a proper weight. Just because your dog is moving more slowly doesn’t mean he doesn’t still love his walkies, so remember to still find ways to exercise every day, even if the walks are shorter and slower. Finally, maintain regular veterinarian visits in order to identify any challenges and keep age-related illnesses under control.

Senior dogs bring lots of love and light to our lives. Their calm and confident demeanor makes them ideal companions. Celebrate and care for your senior dog to ensure that he will be a part of your family for years to come.

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