The lifespan of a dog can vary greatly depending on several factors, including the breed, size, and overall health of the individual dog. In general, smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger dogs. On average, a typical dog can live between 10-13 years, with some dogs living even longer. However, there are many factors that can affect a dog’s lifespan, such as their diet and exercise habits, their overall health and genetics, and their living environment. Some dogs may live longer than the average lifespan due to good genetics and a healthy lifestyle, while others may have shorter lifespans due to health conditions or other factors. It’s important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best care plan for your dog to help them live a long and healthy life.
It may be an upsetting topic discussing the death of your dog, but some smart choices as they age can help extend their lives to the fullest.
Food for older dogs
There are several things to consider when choosing food for older dogs. One important factor is the dog’s overall health, as older dogs may have different dietary needs than younger dogs. It’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your dog based on their individual needs. In general, however, older dogs may benefit from a diet that is rich in protein and low in fat to help maintain their muscle mass and healthy weight. They may also need a diet that is easy to digest and contains antioxidants to support their immune system. It’s also important to provide your dog with plenty of fresh water to help them stay hydrated.
Some popular brands of dog food that are formulated for older dogs include:
- Arden Grange Chicken & Rice Dry Senior Dog Food
- Hill’s Science Plan Chicken Small & Mini Senior Dog Food
- Red Mills Leader Large Breed Chicken & Rice Senior Dog Food
- Royal Canin Maxi Ageing 8+ Dry Senior Dog Food
Keep an eye out for the word “senior” in the description.
Older dog exercise
In terms of exercise, older dogs may not be able to engage in the same level of physical activity as they did when they were younger. It’s important to monitor your dog’s activity level and adjust their exercise routine accordingly. Older dogs may still benefit from regular walks and other low-impact activities, such as swimming or playing fetch, to help them maintain their muscle mass and healthy weight. However, it’s important not to overdo it, as too much exercise can be detrimental to an older dog’s health. Do consult with your vet to determine the appropriate amount and type of exercise for your older dog.
Signs of illness
There are several signs that an older dog may be sick. Some common signs of illness in older dogs include:
- Changes in appetite: A decrease in appetite or a lack of interest in food can be a sign that your dog is not feeling well.
- Weight loss: If your older dog is losing weight without trying, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition.
- Changes in behaviour: Older dogs may exhibit changes in behaviour, such as becoming more lethargic or restless, when they are sick.
- Changes in bathroom habits: If your older dog is experiencing changes in their bathroom habits, such as increased frequency or difficulty urinating, it could be a sign of illness.
- Vomiting or diarrhoea: These symptoms can be a sign of a variety of health conditions in older dogs. Read more about dog diarrhoea.
If you notice any of these signs in your older dog, it’s important to contact your vet for further evaluation and treatment. Early detection and treatment of illness can help improve your dog’s quality of life and potentially extend their lifespan.
Top causes of death
In general some common causes of death in older dogs include:
- Cancer: Cancer is a leading cause of death in older dogs, with some breeds being more prone to certain types of cancer than others. See below for more info.
- Kidney failure: Kidney failure is a common cause of death in older dogs, and can be caused by a variety of factors, including age-related changes, infection, and certain medications.
- Heart disease: Heart disease, such as heart failure or coronary artery disease, is a common cause of death in older dogs.
- Cognitive decline: Cognitive decline, also known as canine cognitive dysfunction, is a condition that affects the brain and can lead to changes in behaviour and overall decline in health in older dogs. See below for more info.
- Liver disease: Liver disease, such as hepatitis or liver failure, can be a cause of death in older dogs.
- General old age: Just like humans, as we age our body tends not to recover as well or completely better.
Cancer in dogs
While any breed of dog can develop cancer, some breeds are more prone to certain types of cancer than others. For example, large and giant breeds, such as Great Danes, Saint Bernards, and Irish Wolfhounds, are more likely to develop bone cancer. Boxers, Golden Retrievers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs are more likely to develop lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the immune system. Scottish Terriers and Cocker Spaniels are more likely to develop bladder cancer, and Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers are more likely to develop mammary cancer. It’s important to consult with your vet to monitor them for any signs of cancer. More information about cancer in dogs.
Early detection and treatment can improve your dog’s chances of survival and help extend their lifespan.
Canine cognitive decline
Cognitive decline, also known as canine cognitive dysfunction, is a condition that affects the brain and can lead to changes in behaviour and overall decline in health in older dogs. It is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans, and can cause symptoms such as confusion, disorientation, changes in sleep patterns, and loss of interest in activities. Cognitive decline can be caused by a variety of factors, including age-related changes in the brain, genetics, and certain health conditions. It is important to consult with your veterinarian if you notice any changes in your dog’s behaviour, as early detection and treatment can help slow the progression of cognitive decline and improve your dog’s quality of life.