Age is a tricky situation when it comes to Dobermans. I love this pictogram about what your Dobermans actual age is. It can be challenging for you to understand that your active 6-year-old is really 48 years old in human years.
I would like to shed some light on how you can support your 6-year-old that is officially a senior at the age of 6. Let’s start with the idea that even though dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, they do retain some of their wild instincts. The wild instinct we are focusing on today is their desire to hide weakness. This is why we are often caught off guard thinking our Dobie is 100% healthy until the day your vet informs you that there is a health issue that might be serious. This is because the dog has been hiding his pain and discomfort based on this wild instinct. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with some of the subtle signals that your Dobie will give that indicate discomfort.
Refusing to getting up.
Not eating or drinking.
Sudden Changes in temperament (anger, anxiety, fearfulness).
Tucks tail under.
It is also important once your Doberman becomes a senior at 6 years of age, I recommend just a short checklist of items to observe about your Doberman, maybe once every couple of weeks. Carefully run through the more subtle changes listed below and you may be able to avoid discovering more serious problem as indicated by the symptoms above.
I always take a few moments to watch my Doberman walk and recommend that you do this, too. Does the gait look smooth and normal? Are they slower getting up from sitting? I pay close attention to panting and shortness of breath in Dobermans due to genetic heart issues; have they gained even just 3 pounds? For a 60-pound Dobie, 3 lbs of weight gain is a 5% increase in body weight. Notice if hearing and vision are adequate for safety reasons. Remember, your youthful-looking 6-year-old Doberman is really almost 50 years old. Make sure you have a complete veterinary examination at least once per year. Please do include the recommended blood work. The dog cannot tell you that they have had an aching kidney for months, but the blood work will show any major organ function issues.
I am sure there are differing opinions on my next suggestion, but once your Dobie is 10 years old, which equals 70 human years, you should start visiting your vet every 6 months. And yes, I would have all the recommended blood work again. I have found that once a Dobie is geriatric, which is at 10 years old, minor infections, stomach, joint and all health issues flare up much faster and will take them longer to recover. As I do with all vet visits, I make a list ahead of time of all my questions, plus I mention even what seems to me like small shifts in behavior or temperament. These are important clues for the vet to investigate possible medical concerns. I have a 13-year-old male Doberman right now. I always remind myself that he is 90 years old and that he needs me to pay close attention to his needs. Here are just a few very simple items to add to your 10-year-old Dobie’s daily life that will help them be much more comfortable.
Consider simple less rich food formulations
Add Pumpkin, Enzymes and Probiotics to food to aid in digestion.
More Frequent walks if a doggie door is not being used.
If the coat is thinning consider a jacket in the cooler months indoor and out.
No slippery floors.
A cushy bed to rest on
Water located in more places inside and out.
Raised food and water bowls to reduce neck strain
Regular grooming improves overall wellbeing and lumps and bumps are more likely to be noticed.
The above suggestions may seem like pampering to some and standard operating procedures for others but in either case remember your 10 year old is really a 90 year old. These are very nice perks that your elderly Doberman will really appreciate.
Here is a book I highly recommend for much more information about senior dog care.
“Your Dog’s Golden Years” by Jennifer Kachnic CCMT, CRP