Tuesday, March 31, 2015

When is a pug a senior?

Liam the pug with his pig toy

Senior pugs need different things than adult pugs. Diets, exercise routines and vaccination schedules all need a tweak when a pug moves from the adult category into the senior category.

But lately I've been wondering when Liam should make that shift.

Liam is 8, so he's certainly no puppy. And he's developing some pretty thick and shiny grey hairs all over his little muzzle. Rather than looking like a sweet monkey, he's looking a little more like a distinguished old man. But is he really a senior? I tried to get consensus.

Sadly, there is no real consensus.

Pugs typically live to age 13 or 15, per the AKC, which means they have relatively long lives (especially when compared to giant breeds like the Great Dane, as those guys don't usually live long enough to experience a double-digit birthday).

So generic statements like "Dogs are seniors at age 7 years," don't seem quite right, to me. After all, that blanket statement probably relies on an average lifespan from a cadre of dogs that might all be different sizes with different relative life spans. Why should I make my pug out to be older than he really is?

Similarly, age seems to be a touch relative with pugs. Thin pugs like Liam, who have been through stenotic nare surgery, are likelier to have healthier hearts than chubby pugs with breathing problems. That should make Liam live longer, so he might be considered an adult for a longer period of time.

Plus, Liam just doesn't seem old. He's as frisky as he ever was, willing to take a few zoomies around the coffee table most nights, and thrilled to go for walks in the morning and in the evening (as long as it isn't raining). He seems healthy. He seems pretty darn young.

So I'm going out on a limb. I'll say that Liam is still just a plain adult, not a senior. Next year, I'll reassess. By the time he's 10, though, it's probably safe to let him slip into senior status.

What do you think? Good call, or am I off my nut? Leave me a comment.

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