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Telltale Signs of an Aging Dog
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Telltale Signs of an Aging Dog

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Jul 6, 2022

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Owning a dog is an amazing experience. Yet time seems to fly by, and before you know it, your puppy has turned into a senior pooch.

There are many visible indications your dog is aging. Most likely, these signs are normal. However, you should contact your vet immediately if these or any other odd physical and behavioral issues. Play it safe so your pup can happily enjoy their golden years with you.

1

Hearing difficulty

Old Dog with Brown and White Fur Kara Arceneaux / Getty Images

Hearing loss isn't necessarily the easiest sign to detect because it's usually a gradual occurrence. Without any underlying problem, hearing can naturally fade away in animals. Since you're up close and personal with them, you may not notice it until it becomes severe because of the slow progression.

Hearing loss isn't as big of a deal for a dog as it is for you. They seem to learn to live with it, so you should do the same. Use non-verbal cues, never sneak up on a dog, and walk loudly so they can feel the vibrations on the floor. These common-sense actions will help your pup live life to the fullest.

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2

Cloudy eyes

dog with cloudy eyes Irina Nedikova / Getty Images

Eye cloudiness is another gradual sign of getting old. Just like hearing, it may be something you don't notice at first. Nuclear sclerosis is a common form that doesn't cause any harm., but ocular diseases like cataracts also appear as cloudy eyes. Visit the vet if your canine is bumping into furniture or can't locate familiar objects.

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3

Some bumps and lumps

Shot of a Girl with her senior black labrador

Finding a lump on your dog can be a scary thing. You definitely want to visit the vet in such a situation to rule out a cancerous tumor. Though in most cases, it'll be a harmless bump known as a lipoma — simply fatty deposits that appear. Don't worry; they're quite common in mature pups.

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4

Arthritis

senior dog lying down on the floor Primorac91 / Getty Images

It seems like it happens overnight: one day, your pup is full of life, and the next day they take their time getting out of bed. Arthritis is usually the cause, as it's one of the most common conditions of aging that can range from mild to severe.

A vet will be able to diagnose the cause of your dog's mobility issues. If it's indeed arthritis, there's a silver lining. Thanks to a number of advanced techniques, they'll figure out a battle plan to help decrease or eliminate your furry friend's joint pain and stiffness.

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5

Gaining or losing weight

Long-haired Dachshund with ball Maisie Paterson / Getty Images

Weight gain in elderly canines is not out of the ordinary. Dogs naturally slow down as the years pass, so it's only a matter of time before decreased activity catches up to them. A change in diet and a bit of mandatory exercise will help keep off the pounds.

Conversely, weight loss is also a sign of aging. Since your buddy isn't moving around as much, they can lose muscle mass. Seniors also maintain a reduced appetite, which causes them to shed a few pounds. Yet rapid weight loss could indicate an illness, so if your dog is losing mass, see a vet.

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6

Bladder issues

Chihuahua dog near wet spot on carpet indoors Liudmila Chernetska / Getty Images

Seniors are known for holding their bladders better than younger pups. That is until something goes wrong. If your housetrained dog is suddenly making messes, or if they're showing signs of struggling during potty time, there's usually an undiscovered issue.

Kidney disease and urinary tract infections are two likely culprits for incontinence and other bladder issues. There's also the possibility that the problem could be mental. Aging animals might be in a state of cognitive decline, and the inability to remember proper bathroom protocol is definitely a symptom.

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7

Canine cognitive dysfunction

senior dog Atlantagreg / Getty Images

Similar to dementia in humans, canine cognitive dysfunction isn't uncommon in senior dogs: forgetfulness and confusion are classic signs, and unfortunately, there's no cure for this degeneration. However, there are several nutritional supplements and proven medications that slow the progression of this disease. They'll also help improve symptoms, affording your pup an improved quality of life.

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8

Feistiness or irritability

old english bulldog relaxed on the carpet at home Carol Yepes / Getty Images

Canine cognitive dysfunction can be an underlying cause of your dog's attitude change. But if your favorite companion is acting out of character, it could also be due to pain or discomfort. The underlying cause of crankiness could be tamed with a visit to the vet.

Aside from pain, there's the genuine possibility that your pup is simply growing less tolerant. As dogs age, their patience can wear down — even though seniors are known for being mellow and relaxed, they're also more prone to irritability. It's best to give your little curmudgeon a safe area where they'll be left alone, so they can seek refuge whenever they don't want to be bothered.

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9

Beyond bad breath

Dog with mouth open LeslieLauren / Getty Images

Doggie breath is one thing, but extremely awful breath is different. In those situations, you want to get the vet involved sooner rather than later. As dogs age, their immune systems naturally weaken, leaving them more susceptible to disease than as a pup. Tooth infection, decay, and gum disease are common problems geriatric pooches face. These all require medical treatment, or else the symptoms can potentially lead to fatal consequences.

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10

Gray muzzle

Senior Great Dane resting on the couch Monica Bertolazzi / Getty Images

As a dog ages, they'll develop a gray muzzle that should be taken as a gentle reminder that your pooch isn't a puppy any longer. Greying on the face is nothing to worry about and is simply a natural part of getting older.

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