It’s not all that easy to tell how long a dog is going to live. Sure, we can see the average lifespans of particular breeds, but there are so many factors to consider that can influence how long a dog lives and what sort of quality of life they’re going to have in those later years.
It’s important to be careful about relying too much on averages; this is especially true if, like many people, you take into consideration the average lifespan of any dog. When you consider all breeds together, you end up with something like eleven or twelve years of life on average. But this doesn’t tell you very much of the full story; the average across a specific breed, combined with information regarding their weight, will give you a much more accurate picture.
In any case, what this information should best result in is an understanding of when your dog may be entering their final years. Care during these years can become a more sensitive issues. Here are some of the things you need to think about when your dog is becoming is equivalent of an elderly human!
Just as you may have noticed with humans, senior dogs get a little more picky about their comfort! They’re less likely to sleep on floors, preferring a more firm and comfortable bed (be it one of their own or yours!). Getting them more comfortable bedding isn’t something you should see as pampering; this is actually going to help them better relax their joints, which will become a bit less flexible and comfortable with age.
A dog’s dietary requirements will probably change as they get older. Your vet will always give you the best information available in this area, but in general you need to consider the texture of the food and the nutritional value. Getting some lighter food that’s packed with antioxidants, omega 3, and ALA (the first couple should be replete in a dog’s diet, anyway!) will definitely be more appropriate to an older dog. Something softer will also be helpful, considering your dog’s teeth won’t be what they used to (for the same reason you should also consider replacing toys).
You need to keep a close eye on changes in your dog’s behavior and looks during these years. Not only will this sooner alert you to the onset of “the golden years”; this will also help you spot any illnesses much sooner. After all, older dogs are more susceptible to illness and injury. You need to consider this before making assumptions about certain things. For example, slow and stiff movement might be an indication of a problem that should be checked using imaging for pets, rather than simply “old age doing its thing”. Speaking of slower and stiffer movement…
You’re going to need to give some thought to the accessibility of wherever your dog goes or whatever they use. Does your dog have to climb anything in order to get into bed? How tough will it be for them to get inside the house (an important consideration if you have to climb stairs to get there). How can you best get them into the car? You should be thinking about all of these things.