It is often thought that one year of a dogs life equals seven in a human life. In reality, however, by the time a dog is a year old she has surpassed a 7 year old child’s development. Once the dog reaches adulthood and middle age, her aging over one year equals the aging that takes place in a human over five years.
The aging process is even more difficult to pinpoint because different breeds age at the different rates. Large dogs, for example, age quickly. Toy breeds, on the other hand, age slowly.
Therefore, the lifespan of a large dog such as Saint Bernard is fairly short. A Saint Bernard may be considered elderly by the age of six. A Golden Retriever, meanwhile, starts to hit her golden age years at the age of eight. The smaller Yorkshire terrier may not be considered a senior citizen until she has reached her thirteenth year.
Older dogs have special dietary needs that must be met in order to keep up with the rapid changes taking place in the dogs maturing body. As a general rule, gradually change the amount of food and the number of times that you feed your dog. Giving your dog smaller amounts of food at more frequent intervals during the day can help to stimulate poor appetite and ease digestion.
Changes in exercise and in appetite may cause your dog to either gain or lose weight during old age. Be certain to monitor your dogs weight weekly. If you notice any excessive weight fluctuations, be sure to adjust your dogs diet.