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On average, dogs are considered seniors or older dogs when he reaches seven years of age, although it really depends on the size and breed of the dog. Very large breeds age more rapidly than small breeds.

The first signs of aging are typically graying fur and slower movements, but it is important for pet owners to realize our fur babies are changing on the inside. Similar to humans, our pooches are more likely to change and develop certain diseases as they age.

One of the best things you can do for your aging pup is to take him for regular wellness checks every six months to screen for these common health problems.

Keeping an eye on him at home and reporting any unusual behaviors to your vet can also help catch these illnesses early, improving your dog’s chance at a long and healthy life.

Common Health Issues In Older Dogs


As dogs age, cartilage between their joints can become inflamed or damaged. This causes swelling, pain, and stiffness. We might notice them limping, walking stiffly, having trouble standing, exhibiting aggression, or even licking their joints. Medicines, diet changes, exercise, and assistive devices like ramps or orthopedic bedding are options to relieve arthritis.


Older dogs have been known to experience brain changes that lead to canine cognitive dysfunction similar to Alzheimer’s disease. We may notice sleep pattern changes, irritability, pacing, and weird behaviors like barking in corners. Researchers are still studying this condition, but there are drugs and dietary changes to help control effects on aging brains.

Heart Problems

Heart disease can also develop as dogs age. One common form of heart disease in dogs is congestive heart failure, which occurs when the heart isn’t able to pump blood efficiently and fluid backs up in the heart, lungs and chest cavity.

Coughing, difficulty breathing, exercise intolerance, loss of consciousness and unexplained vomiting are all signs of possible heart disease and should be checked out by a vet right away.


Older dogs are prone to getting lumps and bumps, and luckily, not all of them are cancerous. But age increases the risk of cancer in dogs, so it’s best to get any strange lumps checked out. Regular checkups and cancer screenings can help catch tumors that aren’t easily seen or felt.


It is common for older dogs to lose their hearing gradually. Nerve degeneration in older dogs typically results in gradual hearing loss. Nothing can be done to stop the deafness, but much can be done to help the dog adapt.

Many owners will at first mistake hearing loss for dementia, as dogs may display a similar type of confusion. Fortunately, deafness in dogs is fairly easy to handle. Because it doesn’t happen overnight, it gives you time to adapt. Try specific methods for deaf dog training, like the use of hand signals. Soon, you will find that the hearing loss hardly affects your dog’s day-to-day life.


Incontinence can come with the territory when you’re living with an older dog. When you start noticing your dog is having more indoor accidents — it’s happening while he’s asleep or seems to be unaware that he’s “going” — try and pinpoint the underlying issue.

Don’t limit your dog’s water intake. Incontinence isn’t caused by excessive water. It’s involuntary.

Vision Loss and Other Eye Problems

Deteriorating eyesight is part of the normal aging process for dogs. Many dogs will develop a cloudiness in their lens as they age, and though this is normal, it does decrease the precision of their eyesight.

Even though it may be due to aging, take your pet to the vet to rule out treatable eye diseases such as corneal damage, dry eye syndrome or conjunctivitis. Cataracts can also be treated surgically.

Loss of vision is usually irreversible, but there are certain things you can do to help your dog adjust. Ask your veterinarian for tips on handling senior dogs with vision loss.


Diabetes mellitus, also known as “sugar diabetes,” is the most common type of diabetes effecting dogs. It is believed that some pets, as well as people, are more genetically susceptible to diabetes. Although a poor diet and/or obesity can also be a trigger.

70% of dogs are older than seven at the time of diagnosis


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