Common Health Concerns in Senior Dogs

Each living thing experiences the intricate biological process of aging. Unfortunately, it causes alterations in the organism’s cells that eventually lead to degeneration. The same is true for dogs. This decline can result in a number of health issues, including illness. This is partially caused by a decline in immune system performance as well as the physical damage that years of movement will do to the body. Muscle mass loss, periodontal issues, mucosa atrophy, and other issues are among the outcomes.

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At AnimalWised, we investigate in greater detail the typical health issues that elderly dogs encounter. We are aware of the ailments that affect older dogs, their symptoms, treatments, and what we can do to help prevent them.

Heart issues

Older dogs are more likely than younger canines to experience cardiac issues. Coughing, fatigue, weakness, lethargy, syncope (fainting in doss), and pale mucous membranes (gums and ocular conjunctiva) are the major symptoms. Dilated cardiomyopathy and myxomatous mitral valve disease (mitral valve degeneration) are two heart conditions that affect elderly dogs.

The owner should take their dog to be evaluated by a veterinarian who specializes in the condition when they see some of these symptoms. It is important to do diagnostic tests including X-rays, electrocardiograms, and echocardiograms and to start the appropriate treatment right away.

elderly dogs’ heart disease treatment

Some heart conditions are incurable. They are a result of the animal’s body aging, and there is no effective cure or it is either too intrusive or too expensive. There may be surgical intervention, medication, or other treatments available for certain forms of canine heart disease. These will vary according to the pathophysiology at play. Changes in lifestyle may also be required for symptom control.

Check out our page on the signs and treatments of canine cardiomyopathy to learn more.


Dogs are more prone to developing cataracts as they age, just like humans are. It ranks among the most common causes of vision loss in dogs. The lens becomes increasingly opaque with time, interfering with light that is intended to reach the retina and severely reducing vision.

Canine cataracts primarily present as:

hazy or white-colored eye

navigational challenges in their environment

collisions with home furnishings (which may cause head injuries)

The canine should be taken to the veterinarian ophthalmologist for an evaluation of the cataract and its classification (incipient, immature, mature, and hypermature) as well as for treatment. Our article on the causes of clouded eyes in dogs has more information.

What is it called: Osteoarthritis

Joint illnesses are among the most prominent of the regular health issues that older dogs experience. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is a synovial joint disease that is slow-growing, persistent, and non-infectious. When it has no known cause and develops as a result of the body’s normal aging process, it is categorized as primary. Dogs who have joint instability as a result of, among other things, bone fractures, patellar dislocations, and torn knee ligaments develop secondary osteoarthritis.

The following are the primary signs of osteoarthritis in older dogs:

following activity, claudication (muscle soreness)

Having trouble walking

Adaptation of posture

difficulty moving around

aching joints

swelling in the joints

muscle wasting (in extreme circumstances)

treatment for older dogs with osteoarthritis

Since there is no known solution for this health issue in older dogs, treatment focuses on reducing the animal’s suffering. Additionally, it will work to stop or postpone additional degenerative changes and, when possible, restore afflicted joints. It’s crucial for the animal to rest and lose weight. You can read more about the need of exercise for overall maintenance in this post on physical therapy for dogs with arthritis.

long-term kidney disease

The most prevalent degenerative disease in elderly dogs is chronic kidney disease, sometimes referred to as chronic renal failure. Both gradual and irreversible describe it. After being diagnosed, some animals only survive a few months, while others can maintain a certain standard of living for several years. 

The most typical signs are as follows:

heightened thirst

Oliguria versus polyuria


Weakness brought on by anemia


poor breath

Depending on the degree of kidney failure, either polyuria (increased urination) or oliguria (decreased urination) will occur.


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ageing dogs’ renal illness treatment

The condition that affects elderly canines is incurable, as we have already mentioned. Treatment aims to manage symptoms and stop the progression of the illness. For dogs with kidney illness, a diet adjustment is required. As well as making sure that they have adequate levels of fatty acids and B complex vitamins, we need to minimize the quantity of protein, sodium, and phosphorus that they consume.

Unfortunately, early kidney disease is frequently either asymptomatic or has widespread symptoms, making an accurate diagnosis challenging. Early detection is crucial for all of the typical health issues that older dogs experience. For this reason, older dogs require more frequent veterinary examinations than younger dogs.

Chronic gum disease

The most typical cause of oral infections and tooth loss in elderly canines is periodontal disease. It causes the periodontal tissues, which support and shield the teeth, to inflame and degrade. The main factor causing tartar formation is the buildup of bacterial plaque, which is brought on by food particles, bacteria, body defence cells, and oral scaling.

Depending on the disease’s stage, dogs will exhibit different clinical indications of periodontal disease:

poor breath

difficulty chewing

Red and swollen gums


a tooth stain that is brown

owing to pain, not eating

aging dogs’ periodontal disease treatment

To relieve the animal’s suffering and bring it comfort, treatment should be initiated as soon as possible. Although this will vary depending on the severity of the clinical disease, it is often predicated on the administration of antibiotics.

When dental calculi start to occur, it is advised to have your dog’s teeth cleaned by a trained veterinarian under general anesthesia, perform a dental cleaning, restore any teeth that need to be extracted, and do so at least once a week.


One of the most prevalent skin conditions in senior dogs is neoplasms. They are skin tumours, both benign and cancerous. It is crucial to visit the veterinary clinic in order to examine the tumour and ascertain the source of it. Carcinoma, melanoma, and sarcoma are examples of cancerous tumours that can develop on a dog’s skin.

The most typical sign is the development of a lump as a result of aberrant cell proliferation beneath the skin. Warts, moles, and hardened wounds may also be visible.


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neoplasm treatment for older dogs

The most effective course of treatment typically involves surgically removing the tumour. The veterinarian may choose to start chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment, depending on whether the condition is benign or malignant. Additionally, you’ll need to adhere to a number of care guidelines at home, such as making sure the dog has time to rest and being calm.

What can I do to enhance the quality of life for my dog?

As we have shown, there are therapies that can help halt the progression of the majority of the prevalent diseases that affect senior dogs. They can prolong the dog’s life and prevent having to put it down. Their quality of life may be significantly impacted by the care we give as guardians. Old age is something we need to take into consideration once they start to reach approximately 7 years of age because it is a normal process in all animals.

Here are some broad pointers you may apply to raise a dog’s quality of life and effectively avoid the most typical health issues that affect old canines:

Give them a warm, dry bed that is preferably padded.

If the dog has mobility issues, make food and water more easily accessible.

Check to see whether your dog can still chew dry food. If not, offer wet food or mix water with dry feed to improve the flavour. It’s crucial to start a homemade diet with the assistance of a veterinarian who specializes in nutrition if you wish to do so.

Do not compel them to engage in strenuous activity or lengthy walks.

If your dog can no longer see well, take away any furniture or items that could be dangerous to them.

As you would have done when you were younger, show them love and allow them to enjoy your company.