Signs of Aging in Senior Dogs

Senior dogs are just as great as young dogs, but their aging bodies require different care. It’s important to recognize the signs of aging in senior dogs so you can help them live a happy and healthy life.

Senior dogs have common problems so you can watch for them.

If you have a senior dog, it is important to keep an eye out for signs of aging. These include changes in your dog’s appearance, mood, and behavior.

Signs include:

  • Shaking or trembling that can be caused by pain or seizures.
  • Lethargy and tiredness from arthritis, cancer or other illnesses. You may notice your dog sleeping more than usual or not wanting to move around as much as before. Your vet will be able to perform tests to find the cause of this lethargy if needed.
  • Skin sores on the face or body that last for a long time without healing properly may indicate skin cancer; tumors on internal organs like the liver; heart problems; kidney failure; diabetes mellitus (high blood sugar); Cushing’s disease (overproduction of cortisol hormone). Talk with your vet about what you should do next if these symptoms appear in your senior pet!


Paralysis, particularly facial paralysis, can also cause a dog to shake. This is because the muscles in their faces are not receiving the proper nerve signals from their brains.

If your dog is shaking for no apparent reason and seems otherwise healthy, you should take him to the vet for an exam as soon as possible. He may be suffering from a problem with his thyroid gland or heart condition that requires immediate treatment.


Lethargy is a common problem among senior dogs, who may be less active and more likely to sleep all day. Lethargy can have many causes and is often related to changes in your dog’s health or lifestyle.

If your dog is lethargic, she may:

  • Sleep more than usual
  • Have difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Have trouble getting up after lying down for a nap

Changes in Appearance

As your dog ages, you might notice some changes in his appearance. These can include hair loss, skin changes, and weight gain or loss. The following are some of the most common signs of aging in senior dogs:

  • Hair loss (also called alopecia)
  • Skin lesions (also called skin cancer)
  • Skin infections (such as fungal infection)

Vision Problems

If you notice your dog has a hard time navigating their surroundings or has become less enthusiastic about playing fetch, they may be experiencing vision problems. Dogs are often reluctant to tell us when they hurt and it’s up to us to catch the signs of aging. If you notice that your senior dog has begun having trouble seeing things clearly, check out these signs and symptoms:

  • Loss of peripheral vision: This means that they are more likely to bump into walls or other obstacles because they can’t see them. The best way to test this is by sitting on the floor with your dog facing away from you and then gently waving something around in front of them (like a piece of string). If they jump at the object or can’t see it, then it means there is likely an issue with their peripheral vision..
  • Loss of hearing: This can lead dogs not responding as quickly as before when called for dinner or outside for walks. A quick way to test if this is happening would be clapping loudly near their ear while calling their name; if nothing happens after two seconds then it may be due to deafness..

Ear Problems

If you’re noticing that your senior dog’s ears are red, swollen, or otherwise painful, it could be a sign of an ear infection. While dogs of any age can develop infections in the outer part of their ears (called the pinna), they’re more common in older dogs who may have more frequent contact with dirt and debris. Ear infections can cause pain and irritation to your pet, which will likely make them shake their head or scratch at their ears. In some cases, if left untreated, they can lead to permanent damage such as hearing loss or deafness.

If you notice what looks like small bugs crawling around inside your dog’s ear canal when examining them (or see actual “bugs” on the outside surface), then your dog might have an infestation of unwanted pests: ear mites! These little creatures are tiny arthropods that feed on skin cells within the ears and create an uncomfortable irritation for pets—and though they aren’t dangerous overall for dogs’ health when there aren’t too many numbers involved yet still require treatment by a veterinarian to reduce symptoms like scratching at their ears or shaking their head excessively due to discomfort from having mites present inside

Gum Disease

One of the most common signs that your senior dog is aging is gum disease. It’s also one of the easiest to prevent by brushing your dog’s teeth regularly, so it pays to get into a routine now.

If you suspect that your dog has gum disease, look for these symptoms: bad breath, bleeding gums and red, swollen gums. Your vet can check for more advanced signs like tooth loss or abscesses (infected pockets) under the gums.

Gum disease is usually caused by plaque buildup on your pet’s teeth—that brownish stuff you might notice on your own teeth after eating dark chocolate or drinking coffee. The longer plaque stays on furry teeth (or human ones!), the more likely it will become tartar—a hard layer that makes it harder for you or Fido to remove with regular brushing. Tartar can eventually lead to infection when bacteria from food gets trapped in all that gunk between those chompers!

Bad Breath

If your senior dog has bad breath, it’s a sign of one of a few different things. The first thing to do is take your dog to the vet for a checkup. Your vet will be able to tell you whether his or her breath smells like an infection in their mouth (gingivitis), or if there is something else going on.

Bad breath can also be a symptom of gum disease, periodontal disease, kidney disease, liver disease and diabetes. Each condition has its own distinct odor so it’s important that you know which one your pet may have before making any decisions about how best to help them feel better.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is the most common oral disease in dogs. It’s caused by bacteria that attach to the teeth and gums and slowly destroy the bone structure supporting them. Signs of periodontal disease include bad breath, tooth loss and bleeding gums.

Dental cleaning alone can’t prevent or treat periodontal diseases but will help clean away plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth so they don’t get worse. You should also brush your dog’s teeth daily with a toothbrush designed for pets, or purchase a special paste made specifically for dogs (and cats). This can be done while you’re giving him his regular brushing session — just gently rub it along his gum line once or twice a week until he gets used to having his mouth handled this way (some dogs will require more than others).

Lack of Mobility

While senior dogs are still plenty active and energetic, they often have a reduced mobility that can make it more difficult for them to get around. They may not be able to jump up on the couch anymore, or go for walks as far as they used to. If you’ve noticed your dog having difficulty climbing stairs or getting up from a laying down position, these are signs of aging in your senior pet.


Your dog might not live as long as you do, but that doesn’t mean he or she can’t still enjoy his or her golden years. If you recognize these signs of aging, you can help your dog live his or her best life.