What is old in dogs?
What is the definition of a senior dog? According to this post from Pet Place, a dog is considered a senior when they have reached the last 25% of their expected life span. You’ll find many variables for size and breed, but this general statement is pretty accurate as far as statements go.
Age is a funny thing, however. One “senior” dog might be as energetic and healthy as ever, while another might seem even older than they are. That’s why age isn’t the only factor to consider.
Is the “old” factor really age?
If age the only factor, what else is included in the definition of a senior dog? A dog that is a senior tends to have the health issues that come with age. Conditions like
- Dementia or cognition problems
- Kidney disease
- Cancers or tumors
A senior dog will probably also have gray around the muzzle and face. They might have a coat that is a bit rougher than when they were in their prime. And some extra weight may have shown up. If your dog has any of these conditions, are they automatically seniors? I guess that’s a matter of opinion.
What about the frame of mind?
Do you have a senior on your hands? We have several dogs that would be considered seniors, but when I think about it, they don’t seem like seniors at all.
Does a dog have to act like a senior to be one? Maybe if they keep a young mind, continue to play, and enjoy life, they certainly seem to stay young longer. I don’t think dogs worry about labels, so they probably have a more positive frame of mind than people sometimes do.
The working definition of a senior dog
As we live, love, and care for our dogs, I’ve considered whether they were seniors from time to time. That term is just a label, after all. For example, how did that sweet little puppy, Sera, become that twelve-year-old dog I am currently petting? Time has passed. She now has some gray on her muzzle, but she’s still the mischievous puppy that I’ve known all of these years.
My dogs are still the same individuals they were when they first came to live with us. It’s a little easier to consider a dog “senior” when they come to live with us later in life since I didn’t know them as youngsters. I’ll have to remember that age PLUS health conditions and frame of mind make a senior a senior.
Definition of a senior dog at our house
I guess I’ll have to get familiar with the definition of a senior dog since we have them. Lucky is 15, we think. When he came to live with us 2 years ago, they said he was 13, but we don’t know for sure. Sera came to live with us when she was a 10-week old puppy, so we know she’s 12. Jessie and Reba were born here ten years ago. Even though they don’t really seem like it, we’ll have to watch for the issues that come up as our dogs get older.
For our purposes, I’m going to call a dog a senior if they have the age and health conditions of an older dog and the frame of mind. That means our dogs aren’t really seniors yet, right?