Canine Life Stage – Mature Adult

Your dog, a [Years] [Months] old [Breed] is currently in the mature adult life stage. Woohoo!


The lowdown on life stages

A dog’s life can be divided into four stages: puppy, young adult, mature adult, and senior. Dogs evolve as they mature, so they require different approaches to healthcare as they progress from puppy to senior pet. When you understand your dog’s life stage, you and your veterinary team become partners in providing an individualized healthcare approach to every veterinary visit. The end result: a lifetime of optimal care your dog needs and deserves!

Mature adult dog care 101: The veterinary visit

A mature adult dog has different needs than a puppy, young adult, or senior dog. Good preventive healthcare and at least semi-annual to annual physical exams will put your dog on track to a long and healthy life.

If your dog is a working or service dog, more frequent veterinary visits may be required. Together, you and the veterinary team can develop a plan to maintain your dog’s optimum health and specific physical abilities.

As a mature adult, your dog’s veterinary visits will include a thorough physical exam. The veterinarian will take your dog’s temperature and check body and muscle condition, skin, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, heart, lungs, gastrointestinal system, urinary system, brain, nerves, bones, joints, and lymph nodes during veterinary visits. Tell your veterinarian about your dog’s mobility and activity at home to help detect early signs of orthopedic disease and arthritis. Click below to learn about some topics you’ll want to discuss with your dog’s veterinary team.

Your mature adult dog's lifestyle and safety

Your dog still wants to run, play, and explore! Talk to your veterinarian about how much exercise your dog needs and ways to enrich the environment and keep them safely occupied. Discuss how to keep your dog safe by identifying potential hazards inside, outside, and when traveling.

All dogs, regardless of their life stage, have to travel safely and with minimal stress. Call your veterinarian prior to your dog’s visit to learn how to acclimate them to travel and determine the most effective way to transport them to their visit.

Infections between humans and animals

Infections transmitted between humans and animals are called zoonoses. They are transmitted in different ways, such as bites, raw food, and feces. Prevent infections from spreading between your dog and your human family members by letting the veterinary team know if there are children, elderly, or immune-compromised family members who may have exposure to your dog.

Mature adult dog behavior

Behavior problems are a common reason dogs are relinquished to shelters. Your veterinarian is the best resource for accurate and current information regarding your dog’s behavior. At your dog’s veterinary visit, be prepared to discuss the following:

  1. How does your dog act and play?
  2. Has your dog developed undesirable behaviors, like jumping or barking?
  3. Has your dog developed any fears?
  4. Is your dog exhibiting any breed-specific behaviors, like digging or herding?
  5. Has your dog shown aggressive or unruly behavior?
  6. Have you noticed any changes in your dog’s relationship with you, family members, other animals, or people?
  7. Does your dog seem antisocial or “grumpy”?

Share any behavior concerns you have about your dog’s cognition (i.e., mental awareness or attitude). Many issues can be addressed and corrected by integrating medical, dietary, or pain management. If training is needed, your veterinary team can help you select appropriate trainers and classes.

Your mature adult dog's nutrition

More than 50% of dogs suffer from obesity and obesity-related conditions. Maintaining an ideal weight will keep your dog active and bright—excess calories lead to excess weight and poor muscle condition, making it difficult to move aging joints. Your veterinarian will establish a target weight range based on your dog’s current weight and muscle condition.

Also, your dog may develop a medical condition that is effectively managed by food with specific nutrient levels. While many people have opinions on the best food for dogs, your veterinarian has the most medical training when it comes to your dog’s nutrition. Work with your veterinarian to choose a quality food with targeted nutrition based on your dog’s breed, size, and needs.

If you are thinking of or are already using supplements, like CBD, talk with your veterinarian so they can help you make the safest choices for your dog.

Parasites and mature adult dogs

Your dog needs to be protected against parasites. A year-round medicine to prevent intestinal parasites should be continued as part of your dog’s healthcare plan. Remember, parasites are found in a dog’s feces and can be transmitted to humans, so talk to your veterinarian about how to keep everyone in your home safe. Also, keep your dog’s heartworm preventive and flea and tick control up-to-date. Expect annual testing for tick-borne infection, heartworm disease, and intestinal parasites at your veterinary visit.

Vaccinations for mature adult dogs

Vaccinations keep your dog’s immune system strong to fight against infection. Several vaccines were likely administered routinely throughout your dog’s life as the primary defense against serious infectious illnesses. Depending on your dog’s vaccine history, lifestyle changes, and risk of exposure to disease, your veterinarian may adjust their vaccine schedule. Antibody titer testing to determine protection from a few specific viral infections may be suggested. Your veterinarian will advise which vaccines are necessary to keep your dog healthy.

Your mature adult dog's teeth

Yes, an adult dog can have a healthy mouth and good breath! Periodontal disease can be prevented through regular dental examinations by your veterinarian and proper home care. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to chronic pain, infection, and poor quality of life. Because so many dogs are affected by dental and periodontal disease, your veterinarian will perform an oral exam during your visit so a dental plan can be designed and discussed. The plan may require anesthesia to obtain X-rays to further evaluate and treat periodontal disease. If you have concerns about anesthesia, tell your veterinary team! They are happy to answer any questions and explain the risks associated with nonanesthetic dentistry.

It’s never too late to talk about home dental care. Find out about dental products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) that can help maximize your dog’s lifelong health.

Your mature adult dog's reproductive health

Veterinarians perform thorough reproductive exams on all dogs, regardless if they are spayed, neutered, or intact. During these exams, veterinarians ensure the prostate, mammary glands, and other reproductive organs are in good health. If you breed your dog, discuss breeding frequency and practices.

Breed-specific information for mature adult dogs

There are breed-specific health concerns that can affect your dog’s quality of life. If your dog is a mixed-breed, consider DNA testing to determine risk factors for breed-specific diseases. At your visit, your veterinarian will want to continue to screen for cancer and orthopedic, kidney, liver, heart, gland, and eye abnormalities that may be breed-related. Early detection is one of the most effective ways to keep your dog healthy and happy!

Thank you for using AAHA’s Canine Life Stage Calculator!

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The 2019 AAHA Canine Life Stage Guidelines are supported by generous educational grants from Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., CareCredit, Elanco Animal Health, Hill’s ® Pet Nutrition, Inc., IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., Merck Animal Health and Zoetis Petcare.