Dog Years: Signs of Old Age in Senior Dogs

We all age. Unfortunately, old age creeps up on your dog at a faster pace than it does you. The signs of old age can be subtle and can be easily missed in the routines of everyday life. But, paying attention to the signs of aging in your dog could help you catch health issues, which can make treatment easier and less expensive–not to mention save your buddy discomfort.

And, as well as with us, early diagnosis and treatment of ailments related to old age can extend the life of your family friend.

For more videos about dog aging from puppyhood to old age, check out Dog Years.

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10. Do you have to encourage your dog to run uphill when he used to beat you to the top? Slowing down is common as your dog gets older, but can be a sign of early arthritis, thyroid issues, and other ailments.

Many pet owners overlook this symptom in their aging dog, writing it off as a simple side-effect of getting old.

Your dog evolved to hide pain as a defense mechanism, so you may not notice that he is in pain, even if he has been in pain for a long time.

Look for bunny hopping or stiffness, and you may want to ask your vet to inspect your dog, even if the symptoms are fleeting. If your dog has osteoarthritis or hip dysplasia, he is probably trying to hide his pain from you.

Dogs suffering from congestive heart failure will also be uncharacteristically tired and unwilling to exercise.

Also, lethargy can be a symptom of very serious diseases including Cushing’s disease, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, or cancer, but it is nonetheless very easy to confuse with decreased energy normal in aging dogs. It’s a serious, if subtle, symptom, so make sure to ask your vet if you think your dog is missing his normal pep.

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9. As your dog gets older, you might notice him getting pudgy. This can be a sign of many things such as a slowing metabolism or thyroid issues.

Obesity itself can put a strain on your dog’s body. Obesity contributes to bone and joint problems like osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia, it weakens cardiovascular health and makes it more difficult for your dog to get enough exercise.

It could be as simple as feeding your dog less food or switching to a lower calorie diet but definitely check with your vet first to rule out any real medical issues.

8. Has your dog stopped coming when you call? If you think your aging dog is just becoming “old and stubborn,” think again – he may be losing his hearing.

If your dog’s mental faculties begin to decline, it could be Cognitive dysfunction. The older your dog gets, the more likely they will suffer from this condition. Look for behavioral changes, increased hours of sleeping, decreased sleep at night, tremors, pacing, and poor potty training habits as these are all symptoms of cognitive dysfunction.

7. You may notice your dog has trouble getting up after lying or sitting for a long time, particularly on hard surfaces. He may also have issues staying on his feet. This can be another sign of joint pain and should definitely be checked out by a vet.

6. Cloudy pupils are a classic sign of cataracts. While cataracts are not a life-threatening condition, if left untreated they can cause serious vision loss and glaucoma in your dog.

This can be hard to see at first, especially if you have a dog that really avoids eye contact.

The early symptoms of cataracts are very subtle; pacing, poor navigation based on poor eyesight, and irritability are the most recognizable. Only in moderately advanced cataracts will the pupils begin to cloud. Because it is very difficult to reverse the effects of cataracts, you may find that you want to keep an eye on your pooch’s eyes to protect his vision.

5. As your dog ages, he will also need to go to the bathroom more often.

Urinary incontinence can be frustrating for you and your dog, but remember that it’s a common problem for aging dogs. He may not even be aware that he has pottied on himself.

Urinary incontinence, however, is also a symptom of kidney disease. Catching kidney disease early is important in preventing kidney failure, which can be extremely damaging, even life-threatening, to your dog.

Remember, if your dog is having a bladder problem, they probably will have an accident in the house, no matter how well they’ve been potty trained. You may not realize it, but punishing these mistakes can compound stress your dog is already feeling around eliminating in the wrong spot.

You may need to increase your number of potty breaks throughout the day or leave pee pads out when you leave.

4. Frequent attempts at urination can be a sign of many diseases that affect senior dogs. Frequent painful urination can be a sign of a bladder infection. You will also be able to recognize cystitis by the unusual color of your dog’s urine. If it’s not cystitis, the problem may be a lower urinary tract infection. Your dog’s urine will appear cloudy, have an unusual odor, and may even contain blood. Like cystitis, dogs suffering from UTIs will need to eliminate frequently, and they may even cry elimination can become so painful. Medications like Proin can help manage urinary incontinence in dogs.

3. A dog owner’s worst fear – lumps.

You should be feeling your dog for lumps frequently. On short-haired dogs, they will eventually be noticeable by sight, but it’s better if you detect them early – especially if they end up being cancerous. On long-haired dogs, regular checks are vital, since they may not be visible even when they get larger.

2. Dry coat, itching, flakiness, hot spots, hair loss, etc. – these are all indications that something is going on with your aging dog. They can be indications of a lot of different medical issues. If you notice your dog’s hair isn’t as nice as it once was, it’s time to go to the vet.

1. This sign of aging will probably be the first you encounter. Most dogs don’t have minty-fresh breath, but if it starts to smell funkier than usual, don’t ignore it. Most dogs, especially the dumpster-divers, have bad breath, but excessively smelly breath is a symptom of the most common ailment in older dogs: periodontal disease. Luckily, this disease is easier to spot than many other age-related diseases, so be on the lookout for pain while chewing, loss of appetite, tooth loss, bleeding gums, difficulty chewing, or chewing only on one side of the mouth, as these are common symptoms of periodontal disease.

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