Health Problems Seen in Senior Dogs

Caring for senior dogs requires a little more thought, planning and understanding than for younger dogs. Some of the health problems that affect older dogs are ones you can prevent or treat by taking good care of your pet. And some are common signs of aging that you can help you dog to live with comfortably.

Dental Disease

Dental disease is the most common health problem in dogs of all ages. It can lead to other health problems, including heart and kidney failure and diabetes. If a dog’s teeth are not cleaned regularly, they will grow long and become sharp and brittle, causing pain as they wear down against each other or press into the gum tissue.

Puppies have 28 baby teeth which eventually fall out and give way to adult teeth by age 2 or 3. Adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth that last for life if properly cared for!

Unfortunately, many owners don’t realize how important good dental hygiene is until it’s too late—and by then their pets may be suffering from painful infection or abscesses (pockets of pus where bacteria has built up).

Age-Related Cognitive Dysfunction

Age-related cognitive dysfunction, or ARCD, is a common condition in older dogs. It’s not a disease; it’s just an age-related symptom of other health issues. Symptoms of ARCD include disorientation, confusion and loss of memory. If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with their veterinarian immediately to rule out serious physical conditions such as diabetes or cancer as the cause.

Lumps and Bumps

Lumps and bumps are the most common health problem in senior dogs.

They can be caused by a variety of things, including benign (harmless) tumors, cancerous tumors, trauma to the skin or underlying tissue, infection and cysts. If you notice any lumps on your dog’s skin or feel something hard under its skin when you give it a hug, call your vet right away.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the most common cause of death in older dogs, and also one of the most common causes of death in all breeds. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics and diet. Heart disease is often treated with medication and careful monitoring.

Because this condition is so common, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs that your dog may be having trouble with their heart. Signs include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Panting/heavy breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat (you should feel this as slight thumping under your hand)


  • Arthritis is a general term used to describe any joint inflammation, whether it be the result of injury or disease. In veterinary medicine, arthritis can be further divided into three categories:
  • Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in dogs and involves degeneration of one or more joints. Symptoms include pain, limping on weight-bearing limbs, reluctance to move and stiffness upon rising from resting position. The most common joints affected by osteoarthritis are hips, elbows and shoulders.
  • Inflammatory arthritis occurs when your pet’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in his or her joints as though it were foreign invaders (such as bacteria). This causes swelling around the affected joints with associated pain and lameness when your dog tries to move them.

Kidney Disease

If your dog is 11 years or older, it’s likely that he or she will experience some form of kidney disease. Just like humans, dogs can develop many different types of kidney disease; some are more common than others.

Kidney disorders in dogs are often caused by aging, though they can also be triggered by other conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. As a result, the symptoms may look very similar to those seen in senior dogs suffering from other age-related conditions (e.g., arthritis). If you notice any changes in your dog’s normal behavior—such as excessive thirstiness or urination; pain when urinating; vomiting; loss of appetite; weight loss—it’s important to see a veterinarian right away so they can determine whether or not there’s an underlying medical issue at play.

The best way for all pet owners who want their furry friends around for many more years would be prevention: keeping a close eye out for signs related specifically

Loss of Vision and Hearing

As your dog ages, he may lose his vision or hearing. Many senior dogs have some degree of hearing loss, and you can treat this condition with hearing aids or surgery. You should also be on the lookout for eye conditions like cataracts and glaucoma that can cause blindness if left untreated.

Health problems in senior dogs are common, but they can be managed.

  • Take your dog to the vet regularly.
  • Get your dog’s teeth cleaned.
  • Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise.
  • Keep your dog’s diet healthy by feeding him or her natural foods, such as raw and home-cooked diets.
  • Be aware of any changes in behavior and take the animal to see a veterinarian if you suspect an underlying health problem or disease process that may be affecting his or her quality of life!


In general, dogs age more rapidly than we do. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of health problems in senior dogs! Although some conditions are unavoidable, many are preventable and treatable. The best thing you can do for your pup is to know the signs and symptoms of common health issues. That way, you’ll be able to catch a problem early and get it treated right away—keeping your senior dog feeling happy and healthy for longer.