Is Your Dog Aging Too Fast? - Doggy Brace

Time flies when you’re having fun… or loving a dog. One day they are flouncy puppies, the next they are an aging dog that you’re watching turn gray and white. It can be hard to know if your dog is aging as he or she should be, or if for some reason, they’re aging faster than normal. 

Read on to learn more about aging dogs, the signs of canine aging, and if you should be worried about your aging pup.

First Off: Dogs Actually Don’t Age 7 Times Faster Than Humans

This myth was based on the idea that people, on average, live until they are 70— creating the 7:1 ratio. Since dogs usually live to be about 10 years old, one year of a dog’s life would equate to 7 years of a human’s life. So on and so forth.

Since this idea has been around for so long, it’s become increasingly difficult to squash. The real truth is that some dogs age faster than the 7:1 rule. Some age much slower.  But what is the truth about aging dogs, and how can we tell if our dog is progressing in age the way they should?

It’s important to understand that each dog breed ages differently. The size of the dog matters most. That is why the 7:1 ratio is completely inaccurate and does not speak for all dogs (or people, for that matter!). Small dogs, on average, live anywhere from 10-15 years old. It depends on their genetics, though, or how fast they actually show signs of aging.

It’s common for Chihuahuas to turn white-faced after 6-8 years of life, especially if they have black fur. But those same Chihuahuas can live to be 13-16 years old. 

Larger dogs live to be about 10-12 years old, but outliers live in this statistic as well. Consider The Great Dane, who usually passes around 8 years old. It’s a painful truth that we wish wasn’t so. Wouldn’t it be great if ALL dogs could live as long as we do so that we never had to go a day without them? Sigh.  

Research your dog’s breed and timeline to understand if your dog is looking where he or she should be for their age. If it seems like they are moving slower than they should, are carrying more weight than average, or moving slow and stiff— keep reading. 

Excessive Weight Gain in Aging Dogs

When we give our dogs extra food, human food, or let them free feed, we may think that we’re “treating” our dog. However, this all can add up over time and create some serious health problems for your dog. 

The problem with weight gain starts with dogs eating more calories than they’re burning. Too much food coming in, not enough activity output. If you think weight gain is prematurely aging your dog, the first thing to do would be to feed a little less and exercise a little more.

According to science, dogs who maintain a healthy weight live about 1.8 years longer than dogs who don’t. When a dog carries more weight than it should, the extra pounds can put a significant amount of stress on the joints—causing a dog’s body to wear down, and age faster than normal. 

Are you feeding your dog too much and not exercising enough? Wondering how much food you 

Should you give your dog based on his breed and weight? Dog food calculators should help.

Stiffness Due to Aging

Paying close attention to your dog’s mobility could potentially extend its lifespan by years. Whether your dog is young or old, mobility is absolutely something to be taken seriously and monitored closely. When dogs become stiff and lose mobility, they are often experiencing pain along with the loss of their mobility. If your dog is showing signs of decreased movement and activity overall, it’s time to see a vet. 

Your vet will most likely suggest a pain management plan, and with it a plan for mobility as well. Dogs usually respond exceptionally well to these treatment plans, which is why it’s so important to catch these issues early. A couple of things that seem to be concrete in any treatment plan from any veterinarian:

  1. Daily Exercise

It’s important for your dog to get 30-45 minutes of exercise. Trips outside to go potty do not count. When you exercise your dog, the joints and muscles get stronger—easing the weight distribution for an aging dog.

  1. Omega 3 Supplements 

If your dog’s breed is susceptible to genetic predispositions to joint diseases, providing supplements can make a huge difference. Aging dogs will age slower and young dogs will keep active for longer. Just make sure that whatever supplement you choose is high-grade and created especially for dogs. 

Dry Fur Coat and Skin Issues 

If your dog’s hair is dry and flaky, this could be a huge cause for concern—especially in aging dogs. Dry fur can be a symptom of an endocrine issue, poor nutrition, parasites, or an allergic disease. All of these issues can create serious, life-threatening issues if left untreated. If your dog’s fur feels extremely dry and flaky, or very oily, talking to the vet wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Fortunately, omega-3 fatty acids are proven to benefit aging dogs. The healthy source of fat proteins in omega 3s improves a dog’s coat, decreases inflammation, and can improve the health of the skin. 

Your Aging Dog is Probably Right On Time

Unless your dog is experiencing the three big topics discussed above, he or she is probably aging just fine. When we watch our dog’s fur change like autumn leaves, things can feel scary and a little out of control. Talk to your veterinarian if you’re worried, but chances are that your dog is just getting older.

Give your aging dog lots of love, exercise, and healthy food. And maybe let him or her sit on the couch with you tonight. Just once!