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Adult Dogs and Their Care

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 some guidelines:

Life Stage No. 2: Junior. Now your dog is kind of like a teenager. Although he can reproduce, he's still growing, so he's not quite an adult yet. His age in this stage ranges from 6 to 12 months.

Life Stage No. 3: Adult. Your dog is officially an "adult" once he has finished growing. He looks and behaves like a grown dog. His age ranges from 1 to 7 years.

Life Stage No. 4: Mature. Your dog has hit middle age! His age is older than 7 years. Breeds that are smaller -- as measured by weight, not height -- tend to live longer than bigger dogs.

While they're usually easier to care for than puppies, grown dogs still need your help with a few things so they can live their best:

Exercise. No matter his life stage, be sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. It will help keep him happy and at a healthy weight.

Vaccines and visits to the vet. Take your dog to the vet every year for a checkup and vaccines to protect him against disease.

Older Dogs and How to Take Care of Them

Life Stage No. 5: Senior. 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.

Life Stage No. 6: Geriatric. 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 gets older, your dog may slow down and need a little more TLC.

Food. Older dogs may not need as much food as they did when they were younger. Ask your vet whether you should switch to food made for senior dogs and how much to feed him.

Checkups. 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.