A little wisdom as Teddy, now 9, enters senior stage

March is my family’s Lab’s birthday month. As like most rescues, we don’t know Teddy’s actual birth date. He was approximately nine months old when we adopted him in December of 2014 from Love of Labs Indiana (LOLIN).

When you count back nine months from December, Teddy’s birthday lands in the month of March. Since we don’t know the precise date, we celebrate all month long with special treats from Mrs. B’s, Teddy’s favorite doggy baker and a new nondestructible toy, at least we hope that it is.

At the age of 9, Teddy is considered a senior dog. His breed, Labrador retriever, is the most popular breed in our country. This medium-large breed weighing anywhere from 55 to 85 pounds and standing 21‑25 inches tall can live longer than many similar sized breeds, on average 10 to12 years.

As I have grown older, I’ve become quite aware of the changes in my body. The small aches and stiffness when I get out of bed in the morning and of the course, the dreaded gray hairs.

Teddy may not have the same awareness even though, he has experienced some of the same changes I have, particularly the morning aches and stiffness as well as the grey hairs.

According to vetstreet.com, “Between the ages of 7 and 9 years, dogs may begin to vary more widely in their physical and mental needs. While this period marks middle age in some dogs, others seem more elderly. In general, larger dogs have shorter life spans than smaller dogs. Therefore, at this point in your dog’s life, it is wise to have a keen eye for potential health problems or changes in your dog’s needs and temperament. If caught early, many medical issues can be successfully treated or managed to help ensure she has an excellent quality of life in her golden years.”

Many veterinarians recommend two wellness checkups a year for senior dogs. These checkups give you and your dog’s vet a starting point. This is where Teddy’s physical or mental abilities are currently at so at subsequent visits changes in his physical or mental behaviors can be detected early.

When we bring Teddy for one of these visits we bring a list of possible health issues we’ve seen Teddy struggle with. For example, one year ago, Ed noticed that Teddy would sometimes limp after one of their daily afternoon walks. Upon examination, Teddy’s vet said at his age, joint arthritis was common. She recommended giving him a daily Cosequin tablet. This supplement is thought to promote the production of cartilage in joints, which can help to slow down the process of cartilage breakdown that can occur in older dogs.

It is also important that you know the breed of your dog so you can understand the possible health issues associated with it.

Like other large dogs, and Labs in general, Teddy is prone to painful hip problems. It is important we manage his weight. Extra pounds could create or make the problem worse.

If your lovable pooch is a mixed breed like our passed dog, Lucy, regular visits are a must. Since we didn’t have a historical perspective, the multiple mixed breed lived her best life because her vet and parents were carefully watching for changes in her emotional and physical behaviors as she aged. Lucy lived well for 16 years.

We’re hoping with good observant care and a little March luck, Teddy will live well for many years, too.


1. Chihuahua, 14-16 years

2. Shih tzu, 10-18 years

3. Yorkshire terrier, 11-15 years

4. Bichon frise, 14-15 years

5. Shiba Inu, 13-16 years


Karin Spicer is a member of The Dog Writers Association of America. She lives in Greene County with her family and two furry pets who inspire her. She can be reached at spicerkarin@gmail.com.

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