5 Health and Behavioral Changes in Senior Dogs

by Melissa Chichester

As dogs get older, it’s easy to let small changes in their health and behavior go unnoticed.

Sure, they might have a little less energy or more trouble getting around, but that’s a natural part of the aging process, right? As humans age, we often spend more time at the doctor’s office and we need to make more adjustments to our routine and our homes to help keep us comfortable. The same holds true for senior dogs. Here are some signs that your pup may require a little extra support to stay happy in his golden years.

Changes in appetite

Some dogs become very fussy about their food as they age. If their teeth are worn down or in bad condition, it might hurt to chew on dry food, and you may have to switch to canned food. Soaking dry food in water or chicken broth to make it softer also helps.

Appetite changes should be discussed with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying problems.

If a dog isn’t eating or drinking anything at all, that is a strong indicator that something is wrong. A phone call to the veterinarian is necessary.

New lumps or bumps

Many dogs get “old dog warts,” and some even get lipomas (fatty tumors that are benign). While these may not be emergencies, it is important to show them to your veterinarian and monitor them for changes. Tests can be conducted to rule out anything serious.

Trouble jumping onto furniture

As dogs get older they are forced to make adjustments as their movements become more limited. Scout may not have the energy to jump up on the couch anymore, but he can still live comfortably with doggie stairs or dog beds that don’t require jumping. Also, consider giving your senior dog a glucosamine supplement to support joint health.

Accidents in the house

If your dog begins to have accidents in the house and has been housebroken for years, it could be a sign of an underlying condition.

Though this behavior may stem from physical issues like bladder stones or diabetes, it could also be attributed to an emotional issue such as separation anxiety. A senior dog may also just need to go out more often than they did in their younger years.

Difficulty walking around

If your dog has more trouble walking around the house than they used to, consider your flooring. Is it slippery hardwood or linoleum? Is it easier for the dog to walk in carpeted rooms, or outside in the grass? If so, your dog might need some mats or carpets to support their stability while walking. If walking outside isn’t any better, your veterinarian can perform an X-Ray to rule out problems like muscle strains, fractures, and other bone health issues.

Dogs are better at hiding their weaknesses than people are, so it’s necessary to monitor their health and behavior closely as they enjoy their golden years. Any changes in your pet’s behavior should be discussed with the family veterinarian to keep your senior dog happy and healthy.