As your dog grows older and begins to get a little grey around the muzzle, you may notice that they start to slow down slightly and may not display the same puppy-like exuberance they once did.
But just because your pooch is getting on a bit, this doesn't mean that their quality of life has to change, as with the right care many dogs go on to be happy, healthy and active right into old age.
However, your pet's needs will change as they age, so it's a good idea to know how best to take care of an older dog to ensure they stay in good shape for as long as possible.
Just like older humans, senior dogs tend to put on weight as their metabolism slows down and they are less active around the home and out on walks.
Therefore, it is often advisable to gradually switch your pooch to a calorie-controlled diet if they start to gain weight as they grow older, as well as cutting back on any treats.
However, since dogs become more prone to certain health conditions as they age, such as poor gums, kidney problems and diabetes, at this stage it is more important than ever that they are receiving the right nutrition to keep them healthy.
Therefore, it's worth opting for a brand such as Royal Canin dog food, which sells products specifically designed to match the dietary needs of older canines, and ensure they receive all the nutrients they need.
While your pup probably leapt up to go on their walks in their younger years, dog owners may find that older canines are a little stiffer when walking or getting up and may even show some lameness.
However, this does not mean that you should hold back on walking your pooch, as gentle exercise is vital for keeping older dogs in shape.
Not only will regular physical activity help ward off weight gain and keep your dog mentally stimulated, but it will also help improve stiff or sore joints, which may come with the onset of arthritis in ageing animals.
But it is worth bearing in mind that your pet may not have as much energy as they used to, so you may want to consider cutting back on the length of your walks if your pooch seems to have trouble keeping up.
Although regular trips to the vet can be valuable at any stage of your dog's life, they become ever-more important in the later years when canines become more susceptible to certain diseases.
If you notice that your pet has either suddenly lost a great deal of weight or that they are looking or acting different, it is always a good idea to contact your vet as soon as possible in case this may be an indication of something more serious.
You may also notice that your dog's oral health is deteriorating so make sure you keep up a consistent teeth brushing routine and if necessary take them to the vet for a more thorough clean and check-up.
Finally, all dog owners should remember that their pet's hearing and sight may not be so sharp when they get older and they may become more clingy or sensitive.
Therefore, it is important to be understanding of your pet's needs, and with a little time and effort you should see your pooch enjoy a happy, health old age.
Written by: Hannah Dyball