5 Common Health Issues in Senior Dogs: How to Spot Them Early

Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not age at the rate of seven years for every human year. Dog aging varies with breed. Large dog breeds have shorter life spans than smaller ones—for example, a large breed dog may already be a senior at age five.

As a dog ages, its organs also change and age. It may lead to complications affecting the dog’s quality of life. Here are five common issues you should look out for. Spotting them in time will ensure your pet gets a healthy and comfortable life.


Hearing and Vision Loss


Your dog’s hearing and vision can deteriorate as it can in humans. The deterioration takes time but may speed up due to other underlying issues. It can be disorienting but not painful. Check or test whether your dog is okay using various techniques and noting their response. Some dogs may develop selective hearing or may not respond for other reasons. 

Seek medical advice if you suspect there may be something wrong. Getting a second opinion will help you distinguish and know what is happening.


Obesity and Weight Fluctuation


Due to less play and exercise, senior dogs are prone to becoming obese and packing on the pounds. You may want to increase their activity since lack of it causes them to burn fewer calories than they eat. However, note that some health conditions may not permit it. 

Signs of obesity and weight fluctuation include weight gain and fat around the abdomen and ribs. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs but not see them. There should also be a tuck in their waist visible from above and if you are looking from the sides. Obesity may also worsen conditions like arthritis, so be careful.


Growths and Tumors


Senior dogs are likely to have bumps and lumps. Not all of these are harmful or a cause for concern. Some are moles, warts, or lipomas (fatty tumors), which are benign. However, the older a dog gets, the more likely it is to get a cancer diagnosis. Cancer is the leading cause of death in pets beyond middle age. 

Be on the lookout for growths and tumors. Ask for medical advice when you notice any of them, and let the vet examine and monitor them.




Some senior pets experience a problem with bladder control or incontinence. It happens as their muscles, nerves, and organs weaken, so check your pet for wetness or soiling. The good news is that there is medication for incontinence. However, it depends on the type. Work with your vet to determine the cause of the incontinence. In the meantime, you can wrap a towel or sling around your dog. It will help them when they need to go. 


Joint Issues


As your dog ages, it will decrease its activities. Although this is a normal part of the transition, it can also signal degenerative changes like osteoarthritis. The issues will be in the weight-bearing joints like the knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows. Some problems may be inevitable, but you can curb them with appropriate diet and exercise. The vet will help you with supplements to decrease inflammation.

For more information on health issues in senior dogs, visit Brekke Veterinary Clinic at our office in Castle Pines or Castle Rock, Colorado. Call (303) 474-4260 to book an appointment today.

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