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Not a puppy anymore: How to support your senior dog

Old dog with gray muzzle

Watching your dog age can be difficult. Their gray muzzle, slower walks, more naps, and less interest in playing are all tough to see. Aging in dogs brings changes in behavior and physical and mental decline. How can you tell if it is age-related decline or something else? Pet owners should be aware of signs of both discomfort and aging so they can take steps to keep their dogs happy and comfortable throughout their golden years. 

Table of contents 

At what age is my dog “senior?” 

There is no set age or date at which a dog transitions from adulthood to being considered a senior. Great Pet Care notes that this distinction largely depends on the individual dog’s breed and size. On average, dogs are typically considered seniors by the time they reach seven years old. However, this can range between five and 12 years of age. The “senior” life stage is generally the last quarter to a third of a dog’s expected lifespan, according to Great Pet Care

Small dogs 

For dogs smaller than about 20 pounds, adulthood sets in earlier than for larger breeds. Some small breeds can reach their full-grown size by six or eight months of age. After this, however, they tend to age more slowly, and the adulthood period lasts much longer in small dogs. 

The lifespan of a small breed dog is typically longer than that of a large breed dog. Small dogs, such as the Jack Russell terrier, can live up to 16 years on average. This means that a healthy, small dog might not be considered senior until they are 12 years old. They may experience joint discomfort or other age-related discomfort much earlier. Pet parents should be aware of signs of discomfort. The majority of dogs experience joint issues around the age of seven! 

Big dogs 

Larger dog breeds tend to have shorter lives. This means that they reach senior status more quickly than smaller dogs. For example, Labrador Retrievers have an average lifespan of about 12 years and typically reach senior status around eight or nine years old. The life span for giant breed dogs such as Mastiffs or Great Danes is even shorter. These dogs typically live eight or nine years, so they are seniors at closer to six years old.   

Signs that your dog is reaching senior age 

Whatever size or age dog you have, there are signs of discomfort that should not be ignored. Often signs of discomfort are confused with aging. Having a list of questions can be very helpful to pet parents. 

Mobility issues 

Older dogs often develop mobility issues. They may start to avoid stairs, or play less frequently. Other common signs that your senior dog may be suffering from mobility issues and joint discomfort include: 

  • Slow to get up in the morning – If your dog is slow to get up and start the day, they may be experiencing discomfort. Dog parents may start to notice their senior dog having a hard time getting up from their bed after a long time laying down, which can signal joint discomfort.  
  • Avoiding stairs or the car – As your pet gets older, they may start avoiding going up or down stairs or jumping in and out of the car. Take note of any hesitation with more physically demanding tasks that your dog could once do easily. This is often more of a discomfort issue than an age issue.   
  • Walking stiffly or slowly – If your dog is walking stiffly or slower than usual, it is almost certainly a sign of discomfort.  
  • Less interaction with family and other pets – If your friendly dog has started to isolate themselves or withdraw from social activity, they are likely bothered by some discomfort.  
  • Loss of interest in toys and activities – Unlike humans, dogs shouldn’t outgrow their favorite toys or games. If your dog is showing less interest in their toys, is asking to play less, or is grumpy around other dogs who try to play, these also can be signs of stress or discomfort.   

Cognitive decline 

As dogs age, they may exhibit signs of cognitive decline. Staring at the wall or into space, wandering aimlessly, pacing, panting, and general disorientation are all common in senior dogs with declining cognitive function. Typically, these behaviors occur in the evening. This is often referred to as sundowning, and your dog may otherwise behave quite normally during the day.  

Your dog may also be less enthusiastic about getting attention or greeting people. You may notice that their sleep schedule is erratic. Sleeping more during the day, coupled with restlessness and agitation at night, may mean your dog is experiencing sundowning. Typical of cognitive decline, sundowning is characterized by both a disrupted sleep-wake cycle and notable stress at night, which can manifest in barking, panting, pacing staring and other concerning behaviors. 

Age-related stress 

Senior dogs suffering from cognitive decline often experience new or heightened stress. You may notice that your older dog seems restless and agitated. They may also be more irritated by things that never used to bother them. Normal aging can also lead to vision and hearing loss in dogs, which understandably causes disorientation and heightens stress. 

How can ElleVet CBD + CBDA help your senior dog? 

ElleVet Products

Since your dog can’t talk, it can be difficult to know when they are uncomfortable. We must rely on observation and behavior to track their physical and emotional states. Whether behaviors that signal discomfort or normal aging, ElleVet CBD + CBDA products can help your senior dog address and drastically improve joint discomfort. 

ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA is also effective in providing dogs support for cognitive function and both situational and general stress. If you are noticing wall staring, pacing, panting or any other behaviors that might signal a mental decline in your aging pup, ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA products can help address these issues and offer cognitive support, which is so important for maintaining the best possible quality of life.  

ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA chews, soft gels, and oils can help put your aging dog’s mind at ease, not only helping them have a comfortable sleep but also managing their stress levels so they feel less agitated and happier.  

Seeing your dog age can be emotional and challenging for both of you. In addressing your dog’s stress, as well as providing joint and cognitive support, ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA can lead to improved overall well-being. Senior dogs are our favorite customers because they tend to respond incredibly well, often when nothing else works. Keeping sweet seniors happy is what we do best!  

Any health or medical information in ElleVet blogs is from a variety of public and reputable sources. This information is intended as an education resource only and is not a substitute for expert professional care.