When is a dog considered a senior?

It's no secret that dogs mature much faster than humans. As they say, one year in your dog's life equals seven years in human life. So, exactly when is a dog considered a senior? Earlier than you think.

A dog is considered senior at the ripe age of 7 years old. And similar to humans, as dogs age, their energy levels shift and we need to reconsider their diet. 

According to a survey conducted by Purina ONE, 31 percent of senior dog owners wished their pup had more energy, and one way to do that is by changing their food.

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11 summer foods you should never, ever share with your dog
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11 summer foods you should never, ever share with your dog

Grapes

They may seem harmless, but grapes (and raisins) are incredibly toxic for dogs. While vets don’t know what exactly causes the bad reaction, dogs can quickly experience vomiting and, later, possibly even kidney failure. 

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Avocado

While a little avocado should be OK, it’s best to avoid the fruit altogether. Avocados contain persin, which can be toxic for dogs. It’s in the meat, pit and skin, so you should keep your pups away from the guacamole dish. If you happen to grow avocados, keep your eye out for any dropped fruit. Keep an eye out for these silent signs your dog is actually sick.

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Bones that splinter

Just because your dog’s favorite toy is a bone, doesn’t mean all bones are safe. Baby back rib bones, T-bones and chicken bones easily splinter, and if swallowed can be incredibly harmful. If you’re serving any of the above, make sure it’s clear to your guests that the remnants should not be given to your pup.

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Bacon

This breakfast staple, along with other fatty foods like meat scraps, can cause pancreatitis in pups. While one nibble here or there isn’t the end of the world, don’t make it a habit, otherwise, the dog’s pancreas can become inflamed and stop functioning. Bacon is also very high in salt, which isn’t good for dogs, either.

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Chocolate

This should go without saying, but some people still don’t know that chocolate is extremely toxic for man’s best friend. It’s worse for some breeds than others, but you should generally operate with the assumption that your dog should never get even a morsel of the good stuff. (Luckily, humans can still enjoy it!)

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Garlic

A member of the Allium family (which also includes chives, onions and leeks), garlic is very toxic for our furry friends. According to the American Kennel Club, “Garlic can create anemia in dogs, causing side effects such as pale gums, elevated heart rate, weakness and collapsing.”

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Ice cream

While ice cream is OK in moderation, dogs don’t digest dairy very well. Still want to give them a treat on a hot dog? Freeze some berries and give them to your dog as a sweet, cool treat.

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Any kind of alcohol

If your dog licks up a few drops of your favorite India Pale Ale that splashed on the ground, there’s no need to freak. BUT, if they manage to lap up half your glass when you’re not looking, you should phone a vet. Alcohol has the same effect on our pups as it does us, but it takes far less to cause diarrhea, vomiting, breathing problems or worse. Here are 8 more things vets want you to know about your dog’s diet.

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Macadamia nuts

While peanuts are 100 percent OK for our dogs to eat, macadamia nuts are actually quite poisonous for them. The nuts can affect their nervous system, causing vomiting, increased body temperature and lethargy.

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Peaches and plums

The actual fruit in peaches and plums is OK for dogs to eat, but if the animals get their paws on the entire thing, odds are they’ll devour it pit and all. That’s where the problem lies. The seed can block a dog’s intestines, but perhaps worse, the pit contains a form of cyanide, which is terribly poisonous to dogs and humans alike. Don’t miss these other shockingly common dog dangers in your own backyard.

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Coffee

You should never let your dog dip into your iced coffee cup. The stimulant methylated xanthine makes a dog’s nervous system go into overdrive. Symptoms include vomiting, restlessness, heart palpitations or worse.

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"Dogs' nutritional needs start to change when they reach age seven," Noa Hefer, Brand Manager for Purina ONE, said in a press release. "That's why Purina ONE Smartblend Vibrant Maturity is formulated with enhanced botanical oils to help promote mental sharpness, and high-quality carbohydrate sources like oat meal and whole grain wheat for healthy energy in senior dogs. You may even see an increase in average activity level over 20 percent when you feed it to your older dog."

The brand is currently pairing up with "Watch What Happens Life" host Andy Cohen and his rescue dog, Wacha, to promote the 28-day challenge. The challenge asks senior dog owners to switch their dog's food to Purina ONE to see improvements like more energy, a shinier coat, stronger teeth and better digestion in less than a month. 

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Andy Cohen and Wacha on Instagram
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Andy Cohen and Wacha on Instagram
This is as close to the From Here to Eternity pose as he’ll do with me. ♥️🐶 (📸: @jtarq)
I won’t apologize for having the cutest dog in town! ♥️🐶♥️🐶 (📸: @elderordonez1)
Is Wacha mimicking the Dancing Bear on my shirt? 👍🏼⚡️🌈🐶 (📸: @jtarq ) shirt by @maryklindon
While the 👶’s away, the 🐶 will play!
I ♥️ my 🐶
Happy Easter, from us. 🐰 🐶 👶
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Going for an outing!
👶 sleeps, we wait. And repeat.
We’re all basically just trying to figure out our rhythm here. It’s gonna happen. 👶 🐶 (Kyle Richards took this and she’s on #WWHL tonight)
I’m officially That Guy. (📸: @elderordonez1)
Many have asked how @therealwacha & his brother are getting along. Here you go! 💋 🐶 #loveyourpetday.
TWO Valentines! Lucky me ♥️♥️♥️
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After the 28-day challenge, you can stick to the food to keep your senior dog healthy, or if you don't like the results, Purina ONE will give you a full refund for your purchase. 

"I took the 28-Day Challenge when I switched Wacha to Purina ONE years ago, and absolutely saw a difference in his energy and coat," Cohen said.

"I’m excited to say that everyone who joins the 28-day challenge now at [Purina's website], Purina’s going to give a dollar for each person to the PetFinder Foundation, which is a fantastic organization that helps rescue centers and rescue dogs, and that includes senior dogs," he added.

Other ways to help keep your senior dog healthy include keeping them active by going for short walks or playing fetch, teaching them new tricks to keep their mind sharp, finding them a friend to run around with and looking into things like booties for extra traction on your hard wood floors or extra water bowls for around the house so they don't have to walk far.

You can learn more about Purina ONE's 28-day challenge here and get a coupon for $3 off.

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11 superpowers dogs have
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11 superpowers dogs have

Super sniffer

Don’t even try to hide treats from your dog. His nose knows you have them. Just don’t let him get his paws on any foods dogs can’t eat. Dogs’ sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than that of humans. Just how powerful is that? As James Walker, former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University, told PBS, "If you make the analogy to vision, what you and I can see at a third of a mile, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away and still see as well."

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Internal storm tracker

There are some weather myths you shouldn’t believe, like lightning never strikes the same place twice. But here’s one you should never doubt: Dogs can sense when bad weather is coming. Researchers don’t have an exact explanation—maybe your pet actually is a superhero!—but they have some theories. Dogs are sensitive to drops in barometric pressure that come with severe storms, and they can hear low frequencies that humans can’t, like far-off thunder and earthquake rumbles. You shouldn’t solely rely on your pet over meteorologists, but don’t let their weird behavior go unnoticed. It could save your life.

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Secret tail code

As if having an extra extremity wasn’t cool to begin with, dogs can also use their tails to communicate. (This is what your pet secretly wants you to know.) They lower their tails when they feel scared or nervous. When they’re alert or aroused, the tails wag higher. If a pooch is aggressive or feeling threatened, that tail will stick straight up in the air. Plus, dogs can tell how other canines are feeling based on what direction they wag in. Italian researchers discovered that dogs became more anxious when they saw others wag their tails to the left, as opposed to the right side or not at all. Previous studies showed that left-leaning tail wagging was a result of a dog having a negative experience, like facing a nasty dog.

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Doggy diagnosis

Dogs and humans know how to take care of each other. You look out for the signs that your dog is sick, and dogs can tell when you’re not 100 percent healthy, sometimes even before you know it. Thanks to their powerful sense of smell, dogs can pick up on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in human bodies, which include diseases like cancer. In 2006, dogs trained at the In Situ Foundation were able to detect lung cancer with 97 percent accuracy and breast cancer with 88 percent accuracy, just by sniffing breath samples from patients. Those are better results than needle biopsies.

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Telepathy

Well, kind of. Dogs can’t exactly read your mind, but they do know how you’re feeling. In a study published in Biology Letters, researchers showed dogs photos faces displaying different emotions while also playing an audio clip that showed a distinct emotion. What’s interesting is that the dogs looked at the face that corresponded to the type of voice that was being played, like a mad face when the audio clip was an angry voice. So your pet may not be able to process the words “You ate all of my cereal?!” like humans can, but she can definitely use your facial expressions and tone to pick up that you’re not in a great mood.

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Empathy

Yes, empathy is a superpower (one that humans can harness with a few exercises!). Not only do dogs and pups understand your feelings, but they can also empathize with you, according to a report from Psychology Today. Psychologists from Goldsmiths College in London conducted the same study on 18 dogs: Each dog would watch while their owner sat across from a stranger. The two individuals would take turns talking normally, humming in an unusual pattern, and pretending to cry. The psychologists reasoned that when their owners cried, the pets would lay on them, nuzzle, lick, or otherwise try to comfort them. But the dogs ended up also comforting the crying strangers, even though they had no emotional connection, just because they saw that they were distressed. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all empathized like dogs?

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Built-in GPS

You’ve probably heard stories about pets that found their way home despite terrible odds and long distances. For instance, this cat broke out of a shelter to go back to his rescuer. But once again, dogs’ noses are a crucial part of their uncanny sense of direction. They are able to follow their own scent trails for miles to retrace their steps, and if the wind is right, they can even use their owners’ scent as well, TIME reported.

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Sonic hearing

While we meager humans can only hear sounds up to 20,000 Hz (vibrations per second), dogs can hear up to 60,000 Hz. Dogs’ large ears are on the top of their heads, prime real estate to pick up noises humans miss. Plus, they have about 18 ear muscles, which allow them to rotate, tilt, and raise their ears to get an amplified sound. If you thought these household noises were annoying, just think of how much they bother your pooch!

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Night vision

Our eyes get more accustomed to darkness the longer we’re exposed to it. (That’s why you should never turn on the lights if you hear an intruder.) Dogs, on the other hand, have eyes that are made to automatically see well in the dark. Their large pupils let more light in, and the rods in their eyes work better in dim light. But the biggest factor is the tapetum, which reflects light at the back of the eye. That helps them see in light that’s five times dimmer than what humans need to see clearly.

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Super speed

Take it from us: You don’t want to challenge your dog to a race. On average, canines clock in at about 19 miles per hour, but many can go over 35 mph if they’re running in short spurts. The fastest dog breed is the greyhound, which can reach 45 mph. To compare, the fastest humans can only run 28 mph. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run, though. It can make you live longer.

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The best prescription ever

Just being in the presence of a dog can make you healthier. Petting dogs can reduce stress, help your body release a relaxation hormone, and lower blood pressure (which, in turn, reduces your risk for heart disease.) Studies have also shown that pet owners are generally happier and more trusting. Plus, they go to the doctor less frequently for minor problems.

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