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Signs of Aging

While some signs of aging, such as a graying muzzle and slowed activity, are easy to identify in your dog, others are more subtle. Most age-related changes in how your dog looks, acts, and feels tend to be gradual. Therefore, it takes a watchful eye to recognize what may be early signs of disease or health problems.

Following is a list of the most common changes associated with age-related diseases and compromising medical conditions. If you note any of these changes in your dog, please let your veterinarian know. By working together, you can help ensure your dog enjoys the best quality of life possible throughout its senior years.

Signs of Age-Related Disease in Senior Dogs

Behavioral changes:

  • decreased activity
  • less interaction with family members
  • less enthusiastic greeting behavior
  • sleeping more – or sleeping during the day and being awake at night
  • disorientation/confusion (getting "lost" in the house or yard)
  • less responsive to verbal cues or name

Metabolic changes:

  • weight gain or loss
  • changes in appearance (e.g., skin and haircoat; loss of muscle tone)
  • changes in eating or drinking habits
  • increased urination
  • loss of housetraining

Physical changes:

  • limping/stiffness of gait
  • vision and hearing loss
  • dental problems (offensive breath)
  • increased infections
  • digestive problems

Remember: Changes in your dog's appearance or behavior can be a sign that something is medically wrong, so don't assume your dog is just suffering from "old age" and can't be helped. Keep a close eye on your senior dog and talk with your veterinarian about any type of change, whether it occurs suddenly or gradually.