All Things Dog

Common Signs of Aging

Your eight-year old Toy Poodle is still hyper, fit, and happy, while your six-year old St. Bernard is beginning to lag. Why? A dog's breed and many other lifestyle factors affect whether or not your dog is actually a senior. However, there are common signs of aging to look for, to take the guesswork out of pet care.

No matter what the breed, you should be aware of these signs:

  • Moving more slowly.
    Like humans, dogs can develop orthopedic problems, like arthritis, that are more common in older pets. If your dog is taking longer to get up or has problems with stairs, take him to the vet to determine the cause and talk about medications that can make him more comfortable.


  • Your dog is thinner or fatter.
    A few issues can cause weight gain or loss: a dog's metabolism will naturally slow down as she ages, and she may be exercising less now. Dental problems can cause weight loss if it's painful for your dog to eat. In either case, see your vet to rule out serious problems and to find out how to adjust her diet and exercise schedule to something more age-appropriate.

  • A haze over the eyes.
    Elderly humans also experience changes to their eyes. A bluish haze over your dog's eyes does not affect his sight and is a harmless sign of aging. However, a white haze over his eyes could be a symptom of cataracts. See your vet immediately with any eye changes to diagnose and offer treatment options.

  • Unexplained barking or a slower response to commands.
    If you find you need to repeat commands to your dog, when you didn't have to previously, or if he barks or appears startled for no reason, he may have hearing problems.

  • Problems with vision.
    You may not even notice that your dog's vision is changing if it happens slowly. Sight-impaired or blind dogs generally adjust well to the loss of their vision. However quickly or slowly it may happen, once you notice, take your dog to the vet to make sure it's not a sign of anything serious. Also, as with hearing loss, be more attentive when walking your dog. She may become disoriented or afraid more easily now in unfamiliar environments.

  • Lumpy fatty deposits.
    These may or may not be harmless. It's important to see your vet to find out if they are lipomas, which are benign fatty tumors that come with age.

  • A change in coat texture and color.
    Unfortunately, like humans, dogs lose the luster and color of their coats as they age. Brushing and grooming your dog often can help her maintain the shine in her coat. However, if you notice a darkening and dryness in her skin that doesn't improve with treatment, see your vet, as it may be a sign of hypothyroidism, which is treatable.

  • A heavier sleep.
    Older dogs sleep more soundly and more hours than young dogs. Make sure you don't use this as an excuse not to walk him! Older dogs still need to exercise, albeit in smaller but more frequent sessions.

  • Canine confusion.
    Dogs sometimes develop age-related dementia, as humans do. He may be more short-tempered, confused, or appear not to know familiar people or places. See your vet if your dog is behaving differently than he used to behave.

  • Slowing the aging process

    Is there any way to help counteract the aging process on any of these fronts, be it with medication, vitamins, or other factors of his care? You can ease your dog into a happy old age, where he needn't feel any different than he did before. Here are important tips on keeping your elderly dog in young-dog shape:

    1. Safety is most important.
    Your dog can hurt himself more easily now, as he may not be able to move, see or hear as well as he used to. Watch for hazards in your yard and home, and if you let your dog run free at dog parks, make sure he doesn't get knocked over by a rambunctious pup.


    2. Watch your dog's weight.
    Your dog should always have a noticeable waist.

    3. Take care of his teeth.
    Be sure to brush his teeth regularly, and give him snacks that are specifically designed to keep his teeth clean while he chews. Consult your vet for a thorough oral care regimen.

    4. Feed him the appropriate dog food, and only dog food.
    (Unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian.) A balanced diet is vital for a dog to stay healthy. Also, measure his food to make sure you're not feeding him too much or too little.

    5. Get your dog vaccinated and visit the veterinarian regularly.
    When your dog starts exhibiting the signs of aging, it's time to start seeing the vet every six months. (However, he does not need to be vaccinated every six months.)

    6. Give supplements and medication only as prescribed by your vet.
    Some supplements may help him stay alert and healthy, but don't take guesses about your dog's health. Your vet will know what's appropriate in the right doses for his age and breed.

    7. Exercise your dog regularly. Exercise your dog regularly.
    The amount and type of exercise he requires depends on the size and/or breed of dog. It helps him stay limber and also gives him a chance to relieve himself, which he needs to do more often now that he's older. Try shorter, more frequent walks.

    8. Stimulate your dog's intellect.
    New toys, new walking routes, and new training challenges all help him exercise his brain and stay interested.

    If we're lucky, all our dogs will become happy, healthy old dogs. With the right care, you can make sure your dog has many happy days ahead!

    Recommended For You

    Not on Facebook? You can register by clicking below.

    Sign up on this site
    We just need a little information.
    All fields required.
    FIRST NAME
    PassedFailed
    LAST NAME
    PassedFailed
    EMAIL
    PassedFailed
    A confirmation e-mail will be sent to
    the address you provide here.
    PASSWORD
    PassedFailed
    password must contain between 6 - 10
    characters, no spaces.
    ZIP CODE
    PassedFailed
    This will help us provide you with information
    that's specific to your area.
    Yes, I'd like to receive updates and special offers from PEDIGREE® Brand. You can withdraw this consent at any time.
    Check if you'd like to give permission for future special offers and additional useful information from Mars, Incorporated. (We will collect the information you've entered here, store and process it in the U.S.) You can withdraw this consent at any time.
    Go to last step >
    Privacy Policy. We will never share your information.
    Thanks for the information. This is the final step.
    To get personlized special offers and alerts, enter your
    information below:
    EMAIL
    PassedFailed
    STREET ADDRESS
    PassedFailed
    CITY
    PassedFailed
    STATE
    PassedFailed
    ZIP CODE
    PassedFailed
    Get Special Offers and Updates on Your Mobile Phone
    This is the convenient way to get the latest info when you're on the go.
    -
    -
    PassedFailed
    Providing your mobile phone number is optional. Msg & Data Rates May Apply
    Submit >
    Privacy Policy. We will never share your information.
    All information will be sent to the mobile phone number you provided:
    MOBILE PHONE #
    -
    -
    PassedFailed
    You can also sign up by sending a text: PEDIGREE to 97979

    Msg & data rates may apply. You will receive up to 4 text messages per month. For HELP, please text HELP to 97979. You must be the account holder or have the authorization of the account holder to request this text service.

    This text service works on on Alltel, Appalachian Wireless, AT&T, Bluegrass Cellular, Boost, Cellcom, Cellular One, Cellular One of East Central Illinois, Cellular South, Centennial Wireless, Cincinnati Bell, Immix Wireless, Nextel, Revol Wireless, Sprint, Unicel, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon Wireless, Virgin Mobile, and West Central Wireless. This is a subscription service. You can cancel your subscription at any time by texting a STOP to 97979. Terms & Conditions apply. For support, call 1-888-782-2180.
    PLEASE ENTER THE CODE DISPLAYED TO VERIFY YOUR REQUEST:
    Terms: I have read & agree to the Terms & Conditions.Failed
    Submit >
    View our Privacy Policy.
    Now that you're registered, you can subscribe to our free e-newsletters. There's one for every stage of your dogs life.
    Puppy Planning E-Newsletter > Puppy Scoops E-Newsletter > The Feed E-Newsletter >
    Close x Subscribe Now
    Look to receive your coupon by mail within the next 10 - 15 days. We hope you enjoy our best Dry Food ever.
    Puppy Planning E-Newsletter > Puppy Scoops E-Newsletter >
    Dog Knows E-Newsletter > Healthy Living E-Newsletter >
    Close x Subscribe Now
    Or log in to the PEDIGREEĀ® website using the fields below
    EMAIL
    PASSWORD
    Having trouble with your password?
    Click Here
    Forgot your password?
    No problem. If you originally registered on our website, just enter your information below and we'll e-mail your password.
    EMAIL
    Password sent
    Your password has been sent to the e-mail address you provided.
    We're always happy to be of assistance.
    Close x