7 Signs of Aging in Senior Dogs

Written By: VetriScience

By Richard Cross, Editor of The Dog Clinic

Every dog ages differently - larger breeds tend to age quicker - but all dogs are eventually affected by age-related issues. These can affect the dog’s behavior, mobility, and temperament. It’s important to be familiar with these signs of aging. Your dog will need senior-specific care as they get older, and providing the best quality of life requires an understanding of what’s happening inside their body.

With this in mind, here are seven of the most common signs of aging in dogs.

1. Age-Related Issues Begin to Develop

Just like humans, there are a host of degenerative complications that are more likely to affect older dogs. Two of the most frequent are joint health struggles and cognitive dysfunction, which can be managed but not cured. Unfortunately, poor organ function can also be common in older dogs.

Not all changes are related to illness though. You may notice fatty lumps underneath your dog’s skin, for example. These are called lipomas, and are caused by the metabolic system using less energy. Lipomas are harmless, but you should still get all lumps checked by a vet. You can support your dog's overall wellness with a multivitamin like Golden Years Energize & Thrive.


2. Behavioral Changes

There are a variety of ways that aging can affect a dog’s behavior. Your pet may be less enthusiastic about greeting you, or more cautious about exploring when on walks. A dog suffering from cognitive dysfunction may also appear confused or unstable at times.

While cognitive dysfunction and symptoms of senility aren’t curable, there are care plans and healthy aging supplements like Golden Years Calm & Confident that can help manage the effects. If you notice strange behaviors, such as staring at a wall, slow response times, or an unwillingness to go outside, contact your vet.

As you would expect, older dogs also tend to sleep more and have less energy. They need longer periods of uninterrupted rest, so try to avoid disturbing your dog when he’s sleeping during the day.


3. Poor Gum and Dental Health

Tooth decay and unhealthy gums are common problems for older dogs. Common signs of poor dental health include bad breath, buildup of plaque, darker-colored gums, and a loss of appetite. Aside from being uncomfortable, poor dental health can allow bad bacteria to enter the blood stream.

Unlike other age-related conditions, most teeth and gum issues can be diagnosed and managed relatively easily by your veterinarian. Fixing dental issues can increase your dog’s happiness, allow them to eat more comfortably, and reduce the presence of bad bacteria, so it’s certainly worth considering.


4. Joint Pain and Stiffness

Joint degradation is another common sign of a dog aging. Dogs instinctively hide aches and pains, so symptoms may not be immediately obvious. But as joint health gets worse, you may notice they are less mobile - especially in the morning or after a long walk.

It’s important to adjust your dog’s exercise schedule to accommodate these changes. Long and vigorous walks are almost guaranteed to make them sore and may speed up joint degradation, so it’s best to go on multiple short walks instead. An orthopedic bed that evenly distribute your dog’s weight when sleeping is also essential, as these can help reduce stiffness and soreness.

Aside from less vigorous exercise, there are joint health supplements like Golden Years Strength & Stability that can help improve your dog’s joint health and quality of life. Supplements like GlycoFlex Plus that feature glucosamine and chondroitin can provide advanced joint support for senior dogs.


5. Loss of Senses

A dog’s sense of smell, eyesight, and hearing all begin to degrade as they get older. Some dogs may eventually become blind or deaf - especially if the underlying cause isn’t managed.

The first signs of hearing or sight loss are often subtle. Your dog may be more easily startled (or even become aggressive) when someone approaches them, as they might not be aware of someone near them. They may also become less responsive to commands. Both of these signs are often mistaken for “bad behavior,” which can lead to punishment and even greater stress for the dog.

For this reason, it’s important to make small changes to make daily life easier for your dog. Make sure that water bowls, food, and beds are always in the same place, so they are easy to find. You should also avoid making sudden movements, even if it’s just to stroke your dog, as these can be frightening.

Eye health supplements like Golden Years Clear & Bright can help support your senior dog's vision with healthy antioxidants to support retina & lens function.


6. Weight Loss (Or Gain)

Both weight gain and loss can be caused by aging. Reduced exercise can mean more of your pet’s calorie intake is stored as fat, but issues with digestion or lack of appetite can have the opposite effect.

Senior dog foods often have fewer calories, which makes it easier to manage your dog’s weight gain. Whichever food you use, always weigh each portion so you know exactly how much your pet is eating.

The only way to properly manage your dog’s weight is to weigh them  regularly and adjust their diet. This is easy for smaller breeds, but for larger dogs you may need to visit your vet for a weight check.


7. Bladder Control Issues

Dogs often find it more difficult to control their bladder as they get older. While most don’t lose complete control, the occasional indoor accident is a common side effect of aging. Accidents can be distressing for the dog, so they should never be punished. Instead, try to give your dog more opportunity to do their business throughout the day.

Health supplements like Vetri Bladder or Bladder Strength can help support bladder health and function in senior dogs.


All dogs age differently, so it’s important to care for your pet in a way that meets their unique requirements. The first step is to understand and identify the issues caused by aging. You should also visit your dog’s vet if you notice behavioral changes, lumps, incontinence, or any other symptoms, as these could be caused by a manageable physical issue.

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