Typical problems with older dogs

Just as the aging process catches up with us, so too does it with our beloved dogs. In fact, many of the aging issues we can suffer from can also be common in senior dogs. Therefore, it’s important to know some of the most common senior dog health issues and illnesses.

Physical symptoms

You may begin to notice that your dog is slowing down and is less active, or takes just that bit longer to get up. While this is a natural symptom of aging dogs, it could also indicate an underlying dog health condition or illness such as arthritis, one of the most common dog illnesses in senior dogs, causing stiffness and joint pain.


Seeing your vet at any sign of a change like this is essential. Arthritis can be managed so that your dog’s pain is reduced or eliminated, and other underlying conditions, such as hypothyroidism, an endocrine disorder also very common in dogs, can be identified.


Hearing and vision loss

Similarly, as dogs age their hearing may fade, along with their eye sight, resulting in varying degrees of deafness or blindness. Once your vet rules out any underlying issues, you should take extra care with them and teach other family members, particularly children, to do the same.

Kidney and heart issues

Heart and kidney function can deteriorate in the older dog, sometimes resulting in more severe conditions such as congestive heart failure and kidney failure. If you notice your dog coughing, have difficulty breathing, struggle to exercise, suffer loss of consciousness, or have unexplained vomiting episodes, these could be signs of possible heart disease and need to be seen by a vet immediately. Likewise, if your dog is drinking more or urinating more frequently, be sure to see your vet to rule out kidney disease.


Like us, dogs can lose cognitive function as they age, resulting in dementia symptoms. If you find that your dog is showing signs of confusion and disorientation, is whining or barking for no apparent reason, or appears to get lost in familiar surroundings, as well as suffering from incontinence accidents, these could all be signs of dementia. However, as with all senior dog conditions, these can indicate other conditions, so it’s always best to get advice from your vet.


Older dogs can be more prone to lumps and bumps appearing on their bodies but, fortunately, not all of them are cancerous. However, like humans, with age, the risk of cancer increases so it’s always best to get lumps checked out and assessed, alongside regular check-ups for potential tumours that might not be so easily seen or felt.

Luckily, many senior dog illnesses and health issues can be treated with medication, diet and exercise; for example, avoiding obesity is essential in maintaining your senior dog’s health. The important thing is to catch any aging dog health issues before they get too severe, so always maintain regular checks with your vet.


If you have an Agria Pet Insurance policy, you can access the free Pet Health Helpline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The veterinary-trained team will advise on any concerns or queries that you may have over your pet’s health – much like the NHS 111 service for people. Call free on 03333 32 19 47.