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When is a dog considered a senior?

If your dog is more than seven years old, they may be considered a senior. In this article, our San Gabriel vets discuss how to spot signs of aging, and the special care and nutrition that an aging dog needs.

How Old is a Senior Dog?

Pet owners often ask our vets, "At what age is a dog considered a senior?". Some dog breeds age at different paces than others. To determine if a dog is senior at their age, you first need to identify their breed. Large dogs become senior at younger ages than small dogs. In general, smaller dogs do not age as quickly as large-breed dogs. Here is a general guide:

Small breeds are considered senior dogs around 10-12 years old. 

Medium breeds are considered senior dogs around eight to nine years old.

Large and giant breeds are considered senior dogs around six to seven years old.

Signs That Your Dog is Getting Old

You are likely to notice both physical and mental changes in your dog as they age. Changes such as grey hair around their muzzle do not require any specific vet care as it is a natural progression of aging. Other changes may need veterinary attention to ensure your pup maintains its comfort into its old age.

Some signs that your dog is getting older include:

  • Weight gain or loss
  • White hairs on the muzzle and face
  • Vision and/or hearing loss
  • Sleeping more or difficulty sleeping
  • Reduction of mental acuity 
  • Gum disease or tooth loss
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Arthritis and joint issues
  • Reduced liver, kidney, and heart function

Care Requirements For Senior Dogs

There are several things you can do to help your dog maintain their comfort and well-being as they age, including taking them to the vet, ensuring their diet contains the proper nutrients, and giving them plenty of exercise.

Vet Care

The first step in caring for a senior pup is to prioritize regular vet visits. By taking your senior dog for routine wellness exams, you're allowing your vet the opportunity to screen for any emerging health conditions and begin treatment as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will also assess your senior dog's nutrition and mobility and make recommendations for diet or exercise adjustments that may benefit your dog. 


As your dog ages, their nutrition needs will likely change. When senior dogs slow down, they become more prone to weight gain. Excess weight gain can cause other health issues, including joint pain and cardiovascular conditions. Speak to your vet about adjusting your dog's daily calorie intake or switching to a food that is specifically formulated for weight loss. 

There is a range of prescription diets and supplements available for senior dogs that are targeted to the various health conditions that senior dogs experience. Ask your vet if they recommend a specific diet or supplement for your pup. 

Besides the physical benefits of a good diet, proper nutrition may be able to help your dog maintain their cognitive function as they age. Dogs, just like humans, can suffer from dementia or Alzheimer-like conditions. Feeding your dog that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, along with providing them with proper exercise, may help them maintain mental alertness.


As your dog ages, they must keep up with a regular schedule of physical activity. Regular exercise helps dogs maintain a healthy weight and keeps their joints healthy. However, you may have to adjust the forms of exercise you are providing for your pup. For example, if you notice your dog is having difficulty with the long walks they once loved, try taking your dog for more frequent walks that are shorter in duration. 

Along with regular physical exercise, senior dogs must receive mental stimulation too. It's never too late to teach your pup a new trick or bring home a new puzzle. There are lots of options for problem-solving activities for dogs. One example is a puzzle feeder that makes your dog work to figure out how to get their kibble. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always consult with a vet before making medical decisions for your pet. 

Is your dog showing signs of aging? Contact Temple City Animal Hospital today to book a wellness exam for your furry friend. 

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Temple City Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about caring for pets in San Gabriel area. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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