Signs of Aging in Dogs

turning grey is just one of the signs of aging in dogs

signs of aging in dogs

Getting older is not a topic I like to dwell on, but denial or not it’s happening. When it comes to our dogs it’s particularly important to be aware of the signs of aging, as well as any changes in behaviour, no matter how slight they may be.

Many people attribute changes in behaviour and physical abilities to getting older and they leave it at that. While sometimes the explanation is as simple as that, other times it’s a sign of a problem and should not be ignored. I Do you know what the signs of aging in dogs arealways urge pet parents to take their animal to the vet when they see or feel something isn’t quite right. Seniors in particular can go downhill quite quickly, so the sooner a problem is attended to, the better the outcome is likely to be.

Is your dog trying to tell you something?

Our dogs don’t have to be able to talk to let us know things are changing, but are we listening?  

Have you noticed any these signs?

If you have noticed some or many of these signs, don’t panic but do call your vet. At the very least it will help alleviate your concerns, and hopefully catch a problem in the very early stages.

Signs of aging in dogs – conclusion

I know my dog Red very well. I know what’s normal for her and what isn’t, and because of that I have been able to catch many issues early enough, so they could be treated and resolved or managed. Do not assume all the changes turning grey is just one of the signs of aging in dogsin your senior dog’s behaviour are “normal” for his or her age. I highly recommend you make an appointment with your vet if you notice any of these signs of aging in dogs.

You are invited!

This is an invitation to join my new Facebook group Senior Dog Care Club. There you will find tips, tricks and advice, have the chance to ask questions, share stories and meet fellow senior dog parents. Join today!!


Signs of Aging in Dogs
Hindy Pearson
Helping people care for their senior dogs
I am a certified dog trainer and pet care consultant, specialising in working with rescue dogs and first time pet parents. I foster and adopt senior and special needs dogs, and advocate for shelter adoption of all animals, particularly older dogs and cats. I am currently working on a spay/neuter program in Spain.

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30 thoughts on “Signs of Aging in Dogs

  1. Thanks for this entry! My Shih Tzu is turning 10 in a few months, and I can already tell she’s starting to slow down a lot. She’s also getting a few more little bumps, which I didn’t know could be considered a sign of ageing!

    She’s a white and light brown dog, and over the past few years, the brown in her coat has started to turn white. Could this be the light-coloured dog’s version of going grey?

    1. Hi Samantha, Thanks for your comments. I love Shih Tzus – such adorable faces!! Lumps, bumps and turning white/grey. All part of growing older – for us as well!! It always made me sad how rarely anyone bothered to give a senior dog and second glance. What’s nice is the seniors you got to see were lucky enough to be in foster homes. Most don’t make it out of shelters alive.

    1. Thanks. I’m doing my best to put out as much helpful content as I can, so that people who share their lives with senior dogs can have a place to come for information, support, and to share their stories. Just like humans age and become prone to issues, so do our pets. Can be emotionally draining, but we love our seniors!!

  2. I have 2 dogs, but they’re both “young”. 4-5 years old.
    My dogs are sporty ones. We’re runing 10-15 miles daily and playing a lot. I hope I will not see any changes of their activity and happyiness in the next 5-7 years.

    1. Hi Greg, That’s incredible, and great to hear. Your dogs are lucky – too many people adopt high energy dogs, when all they’d really rather do is sit on the couch. I hope you have the opportunity to run together for many more happy years.

  3. This post made me so sad reading it. I don’t currently have a dog but in the past we had golden labradors. Both of them had the same symptoms when they got older and it was so painful to watch them getting old.
    Their signs of age were cloudy eyes (they both went blind), deafness, bumping into things, confusion, sleeping lots, arthritis (sore lying or sitting down and again getting up), urinating in the house and being agitated.

    1. Hi Lynne, I hear you – it’s so difficult watching your dogs go through that. I am currently going through that with my dog Red, who is the love of my life. I’ve had her 6 years, and she was blind when we got her, with a slight heart murmur. Sadly over the last few months you can see the effects of age, particularly the last few weeks, it’s been quite a stressful time. Pee pads are definitely a staple in this house, especially overnight. The hardest is her suddenly becoming agitated the last few days. Vet assures me it’s not discomfort from her kidney problem, so I’m guessing a bit of senility. Just ordered some medication that might help, but if not… It all comes down to quality of life.

  4. We had a Chihuahua crossed with a Jack Russel, he was an amazing little wonder and always had quite a bit of spunk.

    We had him for about 12 years and I started to see some of the signs of aging you have noted here including greying around the face and sleeping more.

    I did not get to see more of the other signs however as one day (strangely enough on my birthday) he just disappeared and never returned. We shared a great bond.

    1. Hi Ty, I would imagine that combination would be spunky. I think greying around the face seems to be right up there with the signs people really seem to notice first. I guess because it’s so “in your face” as it were. How awful your dog disappeared like that. Must have been devastating, not knowing what happened.

  5. Oh well, the circle of life is what it is. We are not immortal, and our beloved pets will be crushed by the time as well :(((

    Thanks for that post, lets do what we can to help them be healthy as long as they can.

    BTW. Your sweetheart has a cool jumper!

    1. Yes you’re right about that. Can’t outrun the inevitable, but at least we can stave it off for as long as possible. It’s cold where we live, so I have jumpers, and so does she!!

  6. Great article. I don’t have a dog but my sister in law does. She has a beautiful Golden retriever named Angel. She is the sweetest dog. She is very old now and she started to develop cataracts 🙁 We live in North East Pennsylvania with lots of ticks around, unfortunately she has developed lymes disease. When it starts to act up her eyes get sunken in. It’s so sad to see her age. Your article is dead on. If your dog shows any of the signs described you should def. take your doctor for a check up.

    1. Hi Eloah, thanks for commenting and for sharing about Angel. Ticks are definitely a serious problem, and not too easy to spot on a retriever I should imagine. I know there are some treatments for Lyme Disease available, but of course effectiveness depends on lots of factors. I hope Angel is feeling better. It is definitely sad to see dogs age, but at least there’s still a lot we can do to make their lives comfortable and happy.

  7. OMG! My dog is ageing I didn’t even think about this, I feel so stupid. Thank you so much for this post. Its a little scary though what Should I do? I think am going to take him to the vet soon.

    1. Hi Jovanee, I appreciate you leaving a comment, and of course you’re not stupid. Time passes so quickly, lately every time I turn around it’s Friday, I think we don’t even realise. How old is your dog? How has he been doing? If you need any advice, or have any questions, contact me anytime. I’ll do my best to help.

  8. Great info! If these are the signs then my dog definitely has quite some time left! 🙂 Was afraid that the end isn’t too far since she is really old already.

    1. Hello Cevin, thank you for your comment. It’s comforting to know that a number is not an indication of the length of your dog’s life. There are so many factors involved, not least of which are how a dog’s overall needs are being met.

  9. Me and my family just got our first puppy so this info did come very well in hand. Not for now maybe, but I will most certainly remember this and also take part of the rest of you material on this website! I have found it very useful regarding my lack of dog experience.

    Thank you!

    1. Hello Johan, You have lots of years still before you have to benefit from the information on this particular post. I will have information on caring for puppies as well, so please check back often.

  10. Hi, Hindy. I just love dogs and I happened to have a senior dog. She is 12 years old labrador. All of my family and friends love her like she is a part of the family. She really is an important part of my family since i have two little girls who also love here and she loves them right back.
    All i can say is that i admire what you are doing, and all the best to you!

    1. Thank you Damir, so happy to hear that. I’m glad to know your dog is part of the family, and love hearing about kids being raised around pets. There are so many benefits to that, and find it so sad when I see kids who are terrified of animals. They’re missing out on so many wonderful experiences.

  11. Hi Hindy,
    Shortly after I was born, my mum got me a Labrador, that I named Huggles and for the first thirteen years of my life she was my constant companion and best friend. One of the changes I noticed in Huggles when she started getting older was a change in her temperament…she became more cranky. Also she had an injury where she had torn open the inside of her leg and had gotten stitches. As she aged for some reason this wound just opened up again a few times, and we had to get it restitched. Any idea what could have caused that?

    1. Hi Vivia, how wonderful that you got to experience growing up with a pet, you’re very lucky! I’m afraid I wouldn’t know the answer to that question, but I guess I wonder if she started chewing it for some reason.

  12. Many of these symptoms are symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction which is very treatable if caught early enough. It can start between 8 and 10 years. SAM-e (Novifit) can help so much plus other supplements. Dr Karen Becker says supplementing with Coconut Oil helps preserve cognitive function. If caught early enough, Anipryl (RX from vet) is very effective for many. Everyone, please pay attention to these good signs of aging and get with the vet early while treatment and supplements can still be helpful. Don’t just accept much of these symptoms as *normal* aging.

    1. Thank you for your comments Sharon. Yes many symptoms that people pass off as ageing are in fact medical conditions that can be treated. My dog has dementia so I’m quite familiar with it, unfortunately. I like Dr. Becker’s approach but I don’t recommend medications or remedies on this site, as I believe it is up to the person and vet to determine the best course of action. I might mention what I use for my dog, or what I have heard works well, but never as a recommendation. We use Selgian here and it has helped Red for sure.

      1. I’m sorry, I was not aware of your posting rules. I was simply trying to make options available so that people are able to discuss it with their vet from an informed position.

        1. Hi Sharon, sorry perhaps I wasn’t clear. I want people to be aware of as many options as possible, and I have no problem mentioning them, but I won’t recommend them. I do always suggest talking over options with a vet before buying anything, no matter how popular or well known.

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