What are the Most Common Signs of Aging in Dogs

what are the most common 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 pups it’s particularly important to be aware of the signs of aging in dogs, as well as any changes in behaviour, no matter how slight they may be.

UPDATED July 18, 2018

Many dog guardians unknowingly ignore signs of a potential problem, because they assume any physical or behavioural changes are simply part of the natural aging process. Sometimes the explanation is as simple as that, in my experience it is almost always a sign of an issue that should not be ignored. I always urge anyone who sees “something” no matter how minor it is, to make an appointment to see the vet. You know your pet the best so if there is something that seems a bit off, don’t ignore your gut. 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?  

What are the Most Common Signs of Aging in Dogs

Have you noticed any these signs?

If you have noticed some or many of these signs, don’t panic but please 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, and I know what’s normal for her and what isn’t. Because of that I have been able to catch many issues early enough so they could be treated and resolved, or managed. Has that involved a lot of phone calls to the vet’s office? You bet, but never over nothing, I don’t cry wolf. Do some of the staff recognise my number when I call? Oh yes. Do I sometimes feel like a pain? I used to but I got over it. They’re there to help me care for my animals, and I pay for that service.

I don’t want you to watch your dog every second and panic if you see “something,” but if you have a concern call your vet.  

 

Have you noticed any of these signs of aging in dogs? Sharing helps others so please leave a comment below, or on my Facebook page.

 

I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.

60 Comments

  1. Samantha

    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?

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      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.

      Reply
  2. davif

    That’s some interesting information you put out here. I don’t have a dog so I didn’t have any idea of all of these symptoms. go on!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      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!!

      Reply
  3. Greg

    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.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      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.

      Reply
  4. Lynne

    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.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      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.

      Reply
  5. Ty Jord

    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.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      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.

      Reply
  6. Artur Kot

    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!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      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!!

      Reply
  7. Eloah

    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.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      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.

      Reply
  8. Jovanee

    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.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      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.

      Reply
  9. Cevin

    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.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      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.

      Reply
  10. Johan

    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!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      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.

      Reply
  11. Damir Matisic

    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!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      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.

      Reply
  12. Vivia

    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?
    Vivia

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      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.

      Reply
  13. Vivia

    That’s probably it because we would just wake up in the morning and see it reopened.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Vivia, makes sense.

      Reply
  14. Sharon Duncan

    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.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      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.

      Reply
      1. Sharon Duncan

        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.

        Reply
        1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

          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.

          Reply
  15. shirley deman

    My dog is between 16-18 years old. She is drinking more water and peeing in the house. A few days ago she was laying on her side, barking and peeing. I think she’s drinking more water also. I thought she could of had a slight stroke, but now I’m thinking a kidney issue. I called my vet about giving her med’s. He said no he didn’t want to start that. I’ going to make an appointment Monday for her. Wanted to know if anyone else had this issue with an older dog.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Shirley, I’m sorry to hear about what’s been going on. Yes, it could absolutely be kidneys or diabetes or something else. No one could possibly guess without blood and urine tests. I’m concerned about your vet saying “he didn’t want to start that.” Please find out if that’s because he needed to determine exactly what’s wrong before he is able to dispense medication, which obviously makes sense. You also need to find out if it’s because old dogs don’t have value and there’s no reason to treat. If that’s the attitude I highly recommend you find another vet immediately. Please make sure your vet does testing on Monday to figure out what’s going on, and like I said if he doesn’t, find another vet immediately. If you are interested in interacting with other senior dog parents, please join my FB group Senior Dog Care Club. Good luck.

      Reply
  16. Kelly

    I think it’s important to pay extra attention to our pets as they age. Some of them are very good at hiding that they are unwell – especially cats. Going to the vet with our senior pets more than the regular once a year checkup is very important at this stage.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      You’re so right, it’s important to be super vigilant as our pets age, particularly because they can be so good at hiding pain. Twice yearly check ups are definitely the way to go for senior animals.

      Reply
  17. Lola The Rescued Cat

    My niece’s dog is nine, and we’re hoping to have many, many more years with him. A lot of these signs are ones that could easily go unnoticed, so it’s great to have a list of them. He recently had a change in eating habits,but it turned out to be nothing, thankfully!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Glad to hear your niece’s dog is doing well. Sadly most people assume any changes they say are just due to their dog getting older. In fact it’s usually a sign there is a problem, and the sooner it’s checked out the better the chances it can be “fixed” or at least managed.

      Reply
  18. Emilia

    I think sometimes all medical professionals, animals or humans, just write off things to getting old without investigation. It’s up to us as their guardians to make sure our animals are properlly treated.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I couldn’t have said it better myself!!

      Reply
  19. Kamira

    This is a great snap shot list of characteristics to look out for. I do agree that we as pet parents need to be observant and know what is our normal vs. something out of character or out of our norm. I remember as my cat Dusty aged I noticed things like sleeping more, the grey around her facial fur, and also she couldn’t jump up high on the bed as easily as before. Many traits our pet experience we as humans face too.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thanks Kamira and yes, it is definitely up to us to notice things that are out of character, not matter how subtle and speak to our vet. Too many signs are attributed to aging and conditions go undiagnosed until it’s sometimes too late to help.

      Reply
  20. Beth

    One of the dogs from my childhood lived to be 17. She died when I was 26 and spent the last two years of her life living with me and my husband and our two other dogs. She had cloudy eyes and lost her hearing, but she always seemed to be herself. Now that my dogs are technically seniors, I hope they fare as well as she did. Thanks for sharing this list of things to be aware of.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      That’s a good age even though they never seem to live long enough! Any changes, no matter how slight deserve at least a phone call to the vet. Better to catch something early when there is still a chance it can be “fixed” or at least managed.

      Reply
  21. Lindsay Pevny

    A lot of the behavioral issues that older dogs have, once they have previously been fully trained, are signs of health issues – like accidents in the house. It’s sad to see, but there’s still love in those golden years. Great post!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Very true, they are usually signs of ill health and accidents in the house is a definite major key. I always encourage senior dog parents to see the vet if they notice any changes, no matter how slight.

      Reply
  22. Tenacious Little Terrier

    I anxiously watch Mr. N but he hasn’t been showing any signs. He does seem to get a bit colder lately but we had a big transition in weather so I’m chalking it up to that. He’s constantly under blankets or trying to sleep on warm surfaces.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I imagine such a change in weather would make him feel the cold even more. Does he wear a sweater in the house now? Red started getting a lot colder as she got older so to keep her comfortable she wore a sweater, even inside for the majority of the year except during the hot summer months.

      Reply
  23. Talent Hounds

    It is so important to know what is normal for your dog then you can see more easily when things change. Even then you can miss serious signs of illness as you say. It’s good to look out for those symptoms as your dog ages.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      So true, it’s all about knowing your dog and what’s “normal” for him or her. That’s the best way to ensure you catch an issue before it becomes too big of a deal to do much about.

      Reply
  24. Ruth Epstein

    Layla is aging and I can see it in some things but as my Vet says she is so healthy for an 11 year old I should not panic so am not.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I’m glad you’re taking your vet’s advice and not panicking. You always say Layla is healthy and doing well and that’s down to your excellent care.

      Reply
  25. The Dash Kitten Crew

    What is normal at any age is important so you don’t set unrealistic expectations of your dog. Our cats get regular six monthly check ups as seniors and I am hoping this catching things early for us to act.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Good point about knowing what to expect at various stages. Twice yearly check ups are recommended for seniors, and of course when something seems a bit “off.” Catching things early is the best thing we can do, I’m just shocked by how many people have told me their vets dismissed their concerns and said it was just old age. That’s when it’s time to find someone who cares about the “oldies.”

      Reply
  26. Sweet Purrfections

    My mom’s dog is 11 years old now and is showing some signs of aging. He has black around his eyes and that is slowly turning gray. He is sleeping a lot more and is not as active. He still gets very excited when I go over to see them. This is going to be a hard one because this is the first dog my 82-year-old mother has ever had.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      It’s always tough to lose a much loved member of the family. Is he doing okay or does he have issues that are being treated?

      Reply
  27. Cathy Armato

    Both my dogs are turning 9 so I’m becoming very aware of aging. Great insights here thanks.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs luv us and we luv them

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thank you Cathy. I’ve never had a young dog so it must be something to watch them grow up.

      Reply
  28. Dorothy "FiveSibesMom"

    Oh, yes, aging. I am still in disbelief that my four Huskies are all seniors now. Our alpha queen is 13.5 and my “Pupsters” are 10, going on 11 this January! It seems like just yesterday they were all running like the wind in my yard. While they still have moments of zoomies…the signs are there with three of them. Stiffness getting up and settling down, especially my older gal and our one who had bilateral imbrication surgery after blowing out both CCLs and her meniscus’. The surgeon said they were shredded so bad, most likely a genetic defect. She was 3 I believe when it happened, and we were just so thankful they could repair them. Rehabbing a dog with both legs done was something else, but she was a really good patient. To this day, she has an odd gait from it, but she was able to run and walk and enjoy life for the past 7.5 years, now no more running for her if we can help it! The specialist told us at the time down the road arthritis would set in both legs, and I cannot believe it, but we are “down the road” already. Love my senior “puppies!” <3. Always a great informative post, Hindy! Pinning!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I can’t imagine how quickly you must find the time has passed. I’m glad rehab went well and she was running through life the past few years. Arthritis is definitely a common result of an injury, but I’m sure you’re encouraged by the number of treatment options there are. Until Jack I had never had a young dog so I don’t know what it’s like to watch a dog age. I suppose it’s like what happens to us – it sneaks up on us and smacks us in the face. I’m living in my very happy sea of denial about that one!! Thanks for pinning!

      Reply
  29. Jana Rade

    I wrote an article about the temptation of denial. Whether it’s an aging dog or trying to ignore symptoms in a young dog. Unfortunately, denial does not solve anything.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Sounds like a fascinating article, I’d love to read it. I agree, as tempting as it may be to ignore many things, including what’s going on in our own lives, no good can come of that.

      Reply

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