Common Health Problems in Senior Dogs

Common Health Problems in Senior Dogs

Common Health Problems in Senior Dogs (And How to Treat Them) 

It’s a sad truth that our canine pals age faster than we do. But just because aging is inevitable doesn’t mean it has to put a damper on their puppy spirit!

When your best furry friend starts getting older, there are a few normal signs of dog aging that shouldn’t be of great concern. Their coats will get a little greyer. They’ll start to move a little slower. It’s even normal for some dogs to lose some sight and hearing as they age.

But there are some common health problems in senior dogs that you should watch out for, that will make their golden years less golden, and burden them with unnecessary suffering. 

As always, the best thing you can do for your pup, no matter their age, is to know them well enough to know when something’s going wrong, and take them to the vet on a regular basis. It’s also helpful to know as much as possible about the normal dog aging process, so you can help make their life as happy as they’ve made yours!

Top X Health Problems in Senior Dogs


One of the most common health problems for aging dogs is obesity. As they age, their metabolism slows down, making obesity more likely in senior dogs. Most people with obese dogs don’t even realize that their dog is overweight, so it’s important to be vigilant.

Obesity in senior dogs can cause, contribute to, or complicate other health issues like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.

To avoid these health problems, and keep your dog healthy as he gets older, it’s important to decrease his calorie intake corresponding with his pace as he slows down. It’s also important to get enough exercise. He might not be able to run and play as much as he used to, but good walks, and short bursts of cardio can go a long way to keeping him healthy as he gets older.


Just like in humans, diabetes in dogs is a result of poor insulin production. Insulin is a hormone, produced by the pancreas, that helps move glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of a dog’s body for energy. Obesity and poor diets can lead to diabetes in dogs.

Symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst and urination, blurred vision, fatigue, chronic skin infections, weight loss, and cuts or bruises that heal slowly. Keep an eye out for these symptoms as your dog ages, and make sure to go to the vet if they occur. The sooner a diabetic dog gets treatment for his or her condition, the better the outcome.

Dental Issues 

Another common (and easily preventable) health issue in senior dogs is rooted in their teeth. Oral health routines often fall by the wayside. Dogs usually don’t love to get their teeth brushed, and if we’re being honest, we don’t like doing it either! But it’s a critical way to protect your dog’s health, especially as they age.

When a dog has poor oral health, they can develop gingivitis. Gingivitis precedes periodontitis– infection can spread to the bloodstream and cause serious issues and damage to other organs. Signs that your dog is developing dental issues include tender, swollen, red gums, occasional bleeding, and trouble eating.


Cancer is a devastating disease for both humans and dogs, and it becomes unfortunately common as dogs age. In fact, cancer is the cause of death in almost half of dogs that live past age ten.

Just like with many of the other diseases your dog could develop as a senior, it’s critical to keep an eye out for the signs of cancer and know when your dog’s health and behavior is straying from the norm.

Signs of cancer include:

  • Difficulty eating, swallowing, or breathing
  • Persistent diarrhea or vomiting
  • Decreased appetite or body weight
  • Unexplained swelling, heat, pain, or lameness
  • Lumps, bumps, or discolored skin
  • Non-healing sores
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Bleeding from mouth, nose, or other body openings

Kidney Disease 

Kidney disease is another common health issue in senior dogs. Typically it manifests as a gradual process that begins as renal insufficiency, which means that their kidney is not functioning as well as it could. It can progress from there to full renal failure, which is fatal.

While unfortunately there is no cure for kidney disease, there are ways to treat it, with medication and special prescription diets which can be very effective.

Signs of kidney disease include:

  • Increased thirst 
  • Increased urination
  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea
  • Lethargy


Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that starts with a loss of lubricating joint fluids, wearing away of cartilage, and abnormal bone growth. These can cause symptoms like decreased range of motion, stiffness, and pain. Arthritis is a progressive disease, meaning it gets worse over time. Unfortunately, there is no cure, but there are treatments that can ease the pain.

Signs of arthritis in senior pets include:

  • Wanting less touch
  • Favoring a leg
  • Walking stiffly
  • Difficulty moving
  • Playing less
  • Showing unusual aggression towards others
  • Sleeping more

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) 

One of the most devastating diseases in senior dogs is also one of the hardest to get a handle on. Just like humans, dogs are subject to cognitive decline as they age. In dogs, this is known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (aka CCD). There is no cure for CCD, but some medications and supplements can help your pup feel as normal as possible.

Common signs of cognitive dysfunction in senior pets include

  • Disorientation/confusion
  • Increased reaction to loud or strange sounds
  • Increased vocalizations
  • Increased protective/aggressive behavior
  • Increased anxiety
  • Withdrawal
  • Pacing/wandering
  • Standing in corners as if lost
  • Going to wrong side of an opening door
  • Accidents
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Less energy/interest in playing
  • Decreased response to commands
  • Worse memory/learning ability
  • Restlessness

Just like with most diseases in senior dogs, your canine companion will need your help identifying when their behavior has taken a turn. If you suspect your dog may be suffering from CCD, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as you can to get a clear diagnosis and treatment plan.

How to Help Your Senior Dog 

While it’s sadly inevitable that our dogs have shorter lifespans than we would like, there are many things we can do while they’re here to help them live as long and as happily as possible.

Proper Diet 

Since obesity is one of the most common problems in senior dogs, and it leads to a variety of health problems, it’s important to maintain a proper diet for your pup, especially as they age. That may mean no more fun table scraps, which could make for puppy-dog eyes in the short-term, but they’ll thank you in the long-term!


One part of a good doggy diet is ensuring your dog is getting all of the nutrients they need without overloading them with calories. Just like with human supplements, pup-lemments make it easier than ever to get them proper nutrition without any guesswork or worry. Adding antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids could help with mobility. Find the supplement that will help your pup today, for even more tomorrows!


Not only is exercise good for your dog’s body, it’s good for their mind! Treat your senior dog to a sniff-fari through the neighborhood, go to your favorite park, or even play a good-old fashioned game of fetch. Just because your dog slows down doesn’t mean they don’t like having fun anymore! Make sure you know your dog’s limits, and above all else, keep them safe.

Help Your Dog Live a Long Time

At Pawlific, our mission is to help our canine companions live as long and as happily as possible. We are a team of dog owners and lovers who are developing supplements that we use for our own pups. Our dogs bring so much to our lives; helping them stay happy and healthy is the least we can do!

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