Got an elderly dog, senior dog, older dog, old dog?
Be prepared for as many joys as sacrifices - if not MORE joys!
There is a saying:
Obviously, because dogs typically don't live as long as we do: Under optimal circumstances, a GSD can still become 16 years old. However the majority of generally healthy German Shepherds seem to die around age 12.
And the majority overall decease way before that - due to at least one of the ailments described in the MYGERMANSHEPHERD Health Manual taking its toll.
So, make sure that you seize every day, every moment, you can. This is why I personally sign every MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL with: "ENJOY your dog". Now you know.
Your GSD does not ever have to experience this:
...but if (s)he does, it's good to know that (s)he can still enjoy many years of play, fun, and happiness with you! Thanks to Handicapped Pets Walkin' Wheels and countless other live-improvement products!
Senior German Shepherd
Today, when a German Shepherd reaches around 9 years of age - in human years; 52 in dog years - you know that you have a senior GSD. At this point or sooner, a lot will change. For you too.
See here what you can do.
But whatever you read below, never forget: We ALL get old at some point!
If you are still young when your dog is getting old, it may often be difficult to consider how life is for an elderly dog (and likewise for an elderly person). Both physically and emotionally/ psychologically.
The consideration and respect we expect when we are old we must now pay to our German Shepherd - before we really know how life is when we are old...
Having an older German Shepherd around can be an entirely new experience for most of us, as at this age - apart from less physical strength and stamina - our GSD can be wiser, more understanding and even more fun to have around!
You will now definitely want each moment with your GSD to be memorable, so make sure that you give more love, more care and more time to your aging GSD. Similar to when you had a German Shepherd puppy.
When is your German Shepherd old?
Not necessarily when (s)he gets 9 years old! You know the saying: "You are only as old as you feel!"
However, there are various signs of an older GSD:
- Changes in physical strength and stamina
- Changes in looks and overall appearance
- Changes in reaction and behavior
- Changes in sought rest periods and attention-seeking
- Changes in attentiveness and concentration
- Changes in metabolism, heartrate and respiration
- Changes in diet and digestion
- and yes, unfortunately, changes in overall health too
Hopefully, these changes will proceed in this order:
- Your dog is noticeably slowing down - not just sometimes (this is normal regardless of age), but now always
- Greying around the muzzle
- Changing color of the eyes and coat
- Reduced appetite - not just sometimes (this is normal regardless of age), but now always
- Signs of confusion (especially at new places, but more often at home too)
- Increased potty times (particularly at night) and incontinence
- Symptoms of ailments and diseases now becoming obvious (generally Arthritis, Skin Infections, Bladder Infection, and Tumors; and for the German Shepherd in particular also Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, and Degenerative Myelopathy)
However, the above order unfortunately is not typical. For a German Shepherd, for example Hip Dysplasia and/or Elbow Dysplasia can become very obvious much sooner, possibly before age 5, where none of the other signs of aging are noticeable - simply because the dog is not old by any standard! Even, say Arthritis or Degenerative Myelopathy can become very obvious long before anyone would consider the dog to be 'old' or 'older'.
In fact, the harsh truth is that the last point in the list above often is the first sign of having an older GSD: Particularly Arthritis, Tumors, Hip Dysplasia, and Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) often lead to the other signs of aging, and their implications to premature death.
Nonetheless, once you notice some of the other signs of aging listed above, you will know that your German Shepherd is growing old. This is the time when you should again take special care of your GSD, like when (s)he was a puppy.
Now you will need to better observe your GSD, so that you can spot unusual changes in any of the above-mentioned factors as soon as they appear. You will also need to make more frequent visits to the vet to have a professional check-up on your dog's health, in order to immediately address ailments before they become severe. More details further below.
However, most importantly, you should not start treating your German Shepherd like a sick or senile dog just because of its age (and neither a person, of course).
Be easy, and let the things set into flow as and when they suit your dog.
"Laughter is the best medicine!"
For your GSD, play and fun is the best medicine. A lot of happy tail-wagging means a lot of laughter.
Regardless of age, try to notice how much exercise your German Shepherd wants - and then be generous.
Nonetheless, there are indeed a number of things that you might want to change when your dog is aging, and the following shall help you in deciding the best!
Taking care of an older GSD
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