--> Senior Dog Health: Understanding and Managing the Top 12 Age-related I – Lively Paws Senior Dog Health: Understanding and Managing the Top 12 Age-related I – Lively Paws
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Senior Dog Health: Understanding and Managing the Top 12 Age-related Issues

Senior Dog Health: Understanding and Managing the Top 12 Age-related Issues

Our dogs are more than just pets – they are family members. And just like any other family member, we will want to make sure they stay healthy as they grow older with time. From joint pain to cognitive dysfunction and cancer – they are no different!

Senior dogs require our special attention and care more than ever to help them manage these age-related issues. Because if left untreated, all these issues can significantly impact their quality of life.

By nature, animals are very good at hiding their symptoms till they get to the point they can’t hide any longer.

As a result, it becomes pretty tough for the dog owner to detect these symptoms earlier, especially if they have no idea regarding the common issues. After all, you can only help them relieve their pain and suffering when you know what is affecting their lives.

Don’t have any idea which things to watch out for?

Here’s a list of the twelve most common health issues which are faced by senior dogs as they become older:

  1.  Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is a common condition that most dogs face as they age. Due to this condition, changes start happening in the joint tissues – ultimately causing severe pain and inflammation. In general, big-sized, overweight, and giant breeders are the most sufferers of this disease.

Some of the common symptoms of arthritis in senior dogs include the following:

  • Reduced activity level and unwillingness to participate in any form of workouts or plays like before.
  • Laziness or conducting maximum work with the support of just one leg
  • Muscle stiffness – having difficulty getting up or down, especially after periods of rest
  • Variations to stance or gait, for instance, humping over or bunny hopping
  • Resistant to climbing stairs or jumping over anything
  • Showing some noticeable signs of pain, like flinching or groaning

Arthritis can be pretty difficult to deal with. However with the proper knowledge on how to maintain your dog’s mobility, you can indeed keep their joints healthy and maintain mobility.

  1.  Cancer

The sad news is that age increases the chances of your dog developing life-threatening diseases.

Dogs age much faster than humans. However, it is difficult to determine their life expectancy as it can vary from dog to dog, depending on their size, breed, and even the breeding process.

For instance, Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds and live anywhere from 8 to 12 years. If you get one from one of the reputable Golden Retriever breeders, you would know that it is free from some terminal genetic diseases.

However, if you adopt one from a shelter, it can be difficult to know its genetic makeup. In this case, you must be extra careful and caring about your dog. Cancer is a genetic illness that is more common in some breeds than others.

In most states, almost half a portion of dogs aged 10 and above are found to develop cancer – becoming the most common cause of death in dogs aged over two.

The most common forms of cancer in dogs include lymphoma, mammary gland tumors, oral melanomas, and bone cancer.

However, the good news is if detected in the early stage; they are treatable or at least manageable for the time being.

Below is a list of the common symptoms of cancer found in senior dogs:

  • Lumps, bumps, or swellings
  • Skin discoloration
  • Constant vomiting or diarrhea 
  • Decreased appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Unexplained laziness
  • Having trouble eating, urinating, or breathing
  • Nose or mouth bleeding
  1.  Heart Disease

Next up, we have heart disease. It is another common health issue found in most senior dogs.

As they start aging, their hearts automatically begin to weaken and become less efficient at pumping blood. This can lead to conditions such as congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, or valve disease.

Some common symptoms of heart disease in senior dogs include:

  • Fatigue
  • Coughing
  • Having difficulty in breathing
  • Decreased activity level
  • Weight loss
  1.  Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is yet another common health issue in senior dogs to be concerned about. As we all know, the kidney is a curial part of our body that is responsible for filtering the waste products from the blood, and as these animals age, their kidneys can become less effective at doing so.

This can lead to a condition called chronic kidney disease, with showing the below-mentioned symptoms as follows:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urge to urinate and vice-versa
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Dull or shaggy fur
  1.  Urinary Tract Disease

These health conditions can greatly vary from painful infections to incontinence – particularly upsetting for housebroken pets. And based on the condition, they can take a worse turn if not treated on time.

Some of the symptoms to look out for include the following:

  • Increased level of urination
  • Having trouble urinating or straining
  • Urine mixed with blood
  • Accidents in the house
  1.  Liver Disease

Liver – they are mainly responsible for filtering out the toxins from the body. And as our fellow pets age, the liver tends to become less effective in doing its job – leading to severe health conditions like cirrhosis or hepatitis.

Some of the symptoms include the following:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Increased thirst
  • Jaundice (yellow eyes, tongue, or gums)
  • Frequent urination
  • Dark color urine
  • Seizures attacks
  • Abdomen inflammation due to fluid buildup
  1.  Diabetes

Diabetes is an endocrine (hormonal) disease where the dog's body cannot generate sufficient insulin as required by the body. This problem starts showing symptoms gradually, making it difficult to diagnose on time.

Some of the common signs of diabetes to watch out for include:

  • Drinking a lot of water every then and now
  • Increased level of urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Cataracts
  • Fatigue
  • Urinary tract infections
  1.  Obesity

We have obesity – which nearly affects more than 50% of senior dogs. The ultimate reason for these happening is as the dogs start aging, their metabolism can slow down, and they may not be as active as they once were.

This, in turn, can lead to weight gain, increasing the risk of other health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and joint problems.

Things to watch out for in case of obesity include the following:

  • Weight gain
  • Excessive fat developing around their ribs and abdomen

So, if you notice that your senior dog is gaining weight, you must work out with your vet to develop a healthy diet and exercise plan before it's too late.

  1.  Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD)

Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) is a condition that affects the mental abilities of dogs and is almost similar to dementia disease in humans.

In the early stages, this CCD is deemed the Sundowners Syndrome, where the owners begin noticing sudden behavioral changes, especially in the evening.

 Here, the symptoms can vary greatly from dog to dog. However, there are some common behavioral changes that you should look out for in a span of two weeks at most.

They are the following:

  • Always remain in a confused or disoriented state
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Conducting some activities in a repetitive mode
  • Roaming here and there
  • Becoming less responsive with time
  • Increased vocalization, such as barking or howling loudly without any reason
  • Decreased communication with humans or other animals, especially when s/he was a friendly one
  • Loss of housetraining
  1. Incontinence

Incontinence is quite a common problem in senior dogs, especially in females who have been spayed. And the ultimate reason is the loss of bladder control due to the muscle deterioration holding the bladder closed.

However, the problem with this incontinence is they tend to come and go with the incontinent dog continuing to urinate normally. As a result, it is pretty difficult to detect them – eventually taking a worse turn with time.

So, watch out for the below signs, and if needed, consult with a veterinarian:

  • Having trouble producing a normal flow of urine
  • Urine leakage
  • Dampness found on the fur, underlying in the hind legs portion
  • Increased tendency to lick the backend
  • Persistent urine odor
  • Redness on the skin repeatedly occurs when coming into direct exposure to urine.
  1. Vision and Hearing Loss

Degradation of the senses, like vision and hearing loss, is pretty common for older dogs, based on any underlying medical condition or maybe just a natural aging procedure. This can eventually make it difficult for your dog to navigate their environment or communicate with you properly.

So, if you notice that your senior dog is bumping into things or seems to be ignoring you, it's important to have their vision and hearing checked by a vet without delay.  

Having confirmed with a vet will help you and your dog stay assured and keep the condition in check before it takes a bad turn.

Luckily, our fellow friend relies more on their smell senses than hearing for navigation. The symptoms of hearing loss may include:

  • Showing less response to your commands
  • Sleeping while making a loud noise
  • Getting startled by the slightest sound
  • Becoming more and more sensitive to strange noises
  • Behavioral changes, like anxiety, depression, etc.

Though vision loss is quite challenging to detect, there are some signs to watch out for. They often include:

  • Sudden visible changes in the appearance of one or both eyes, for instance, grey or white spots
  • Bumping into things
  • Hesitant to adapt to new changing environments
  • Avoiding stairs and jumping here and there
  • Gets startled even with a slight touch.
  1. Dental Issues

Lastly, we have Dental issues. They are another common health issue found in senior dogs – affecting their eating. As dogs age, they may develop dental problems like gum infections, tooth decay, or tooth loss.

These issues can cause severe pain and discomfort for your dog and even can lead to other health problems like heart disease.

So, make sure to brush your dog's teeth every day twice with a dog-safe paste and get them checked out by a veterinarian in case of any of the following symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Having trouble chewing any food
  • Doesn’t want to eat their favorite food or use just one side of the mouth to eat
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Gums bleeding


Our senior dogs have given us years of love and companionship and as they age, it's our very responsibility to give them the exact care and support they need to age gracefully and happily.

Remember, every senior dog is different and may require a unique approach to managing their health issues.

Now that you know the twelve most common health-related issues for senior dogs and which symptoms to look for, try to watch them closely. And upon noticing any two or more symptoms mentioned above, consult with a vet as soon as possible.

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