As your dog grows from puppy to senior, you’ll need to adjust how you take care of him. Here’s what to expect as he moves through each stage of life. Your dog’s life in stages:
Life stage no.1: Puppies
Your dog is a puppy from the time it’s a newborn until it’s able to reproduce. This happens at different ages, depending on the breed of dog. Smaller breeds tend to reach sexual maturity earlier than larger breeds.
Puppies slowly switch from their mother’s milk to eating other foods when they’re 3 or 4 weeks old. By 7-8 weeks old they should be fully switched over from milk to food.
The number of feedings per day changes as your puppy gets older:
- 2 to 3 months old: 4 times a day
- 3 to 6 months old: 3 times a day
- 6 months old to 1 year old: 2 times a day
After age 1, feed your dog once or twice a day.
Dogs may show signs of gum disease by age 4 if you don’t take care of their teeth. So the right time to begin proper dental care is when your dog is still a puppy. The younger you start, the less phased they’ll be by it as they age.
You can introduce the idea of house-training as soon as your puppy is weaned. He’s still developing, though, its important to remain patient. By the time he’s 4 to 6 months old, he should be fully house trained and not have any accidents.
Spaying and neutering
You may want to have your puppy spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering while they are puppies rather than as adults can help prevent problems like breast cancer and testicular disease when they get older.
Dogs need several rounds of vaccinations or shots during their first year. Your vet will keep you aware of what and when they should have them.
Life stage no.2: Adult Dogs
In these three stages your dog is in the prime of his life. The ages for these stages may differ with each breed, but here are a few guidelines:
Your dog is like a teenager at this stage (6-12 months). He’s still growing so he hasn’t quite reached complete adulthood yet.
At ages 1-7 your dog is officially an “adult” once he has finished growing.
At 7+ your dog has hit middle age! Breeds that are smaller — tend to live longer than bigger dogs so you may feel like your “middle aged dog” is still a puppy.
Life stage no.3: Older Dogs
Your dog enters this stage once he’s reached the last quarter of his life expectancy. A dog’s lifespan varies according to size and breed. For some this might be around the age of 9 or 10, for others it may be 14-15 years old.
Your dog has reached his life expectancy and is still going! Dogs stay in this final stage for the rest of their lives. As he slows down, he may require a little more TLC and patience on your part.
Older dogs may not need as much food as they did when they were younger or develop sensitivities to the food they used to be fine with. Ask your vet whether you should switch to food made for senior dogs and how much to feed him.
You may need to begin taking your older dog to the vet for checkups every 6 months. That’s because later in life, dogs are more likely to develop arthritis and other diseases. Routine blood tests can help detect problems early, such as kidney disease. Early diagnosis and therapy can help prolong his life.
Older dogs still need exercise. But they often can’t handle extreme temperatures as well. So protect your senior dog from overheating and being too cold. Ultimately, just pay attention to his needs and moderate activities accordingly.
Later in life, dogs may have poorer vision and more trouble walking and thinking clearly. Safety proof your house to protect him by keeping the floor clear of electric cords and other objects.