5 Serious Signs Your Senior Dog Might Be Sick

Posted by Maureen Lake at

5 Serious Signs Your Senior Dog Might Be Sick

5 Serious Signs Your Senior Dog Might Be Sick

Getting older is no fun. Neither is it for our senior dog I should know about aging because it’s happening to me right now. I like to think that I take good care of myself. After all, I watch what I eat (most of the time); only drink occasionally, and have my annual checkup and physical every year like clockwork. I’m aware of when something isn’t right and I need to see the Doctor right away. But, can you intervene the same thing about your senior dog? Do you know the signs of a serious concern and when you should take your pet to the vet? Let’s discuss the 5 serious signs your senior dog might be sick, and always remember it’s best to err on the side of caution.


Change in Weight | Appetite

A change in weight may include an increase in weight or possibly losing weight. Both can be red flags that something else might be going on. Of course, if your pet is not exercising like they use to due to arthritis or other condition, weight gain may be a by-product of their lack of movement. Senior dogs should be fed a diet appropriate for their age and general health and remember some dogs do require special or prescription diets. 5 Serious Signs Your Senior Dog Might Be Sick



Arthritis results from damage to the cartilage in the affected joint. Typically it is caused by wear and tear, although there can be other reasons as well. The symptoms of arthritis may be subtle and may include limping, stiffness, pain, licking or chewing the joint, and reluctance to go up or down stairs. An exam, in addition to X-Rays, is the most common way to diagnose arthritis in older dogs. 5 Serious Signs Your Senior Dog Might Be Sick  


Change In Urine Output | Thirst

There are many reasons why a dog may become thirsty or change the amount they urinate. But, dogs should not drink more water because they are older, because it’s hot outside, or because the heat is on in the winter! The most common causes of thirst is kidney problems or diabetes. Often, senior pets will become incontinent due to loss of sphincter control or infection. And always be mindful of the fact that this can indicate a more serious problem.

5 Serious Signs Your Senior Dog Might Be Sick

Hair Loss | Itchy Skin

Hair loss | itchy skin can be caused by many different things such as allergies, molds and fungus. But, this symptom can also point toward autoimmune diseases (lupus, pemphigus) or endocrine diseases such as hypothyroidism or hyperadrenocorticism or Cushing’s disease. 5 Serious Signs Your Senior Dog Might Be Sick


Bad Breath | Bleeding Gums

I admit, I’m not the best at brushing my dog’s teeth. I hand out dental chews and call it a day. But just like us, a dog’s dental health is vital to their health and longevity. As our dog’s age, gum disease, tooth loss and even tartar are all potential problems for our pet’s health. Did you know that cancers and metabolic diseases (kidney, Diabetes Mellitus) are possible causes of teeth problems and bad breath? Whenever in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of your Vet when it comes to oral health. Obviously, this list is not inclusive, but does point out some of the most common difficulties our senior dogs encounter while aging. Older dogs don’t necessarily have the same energy and time may be critical when reaching out to your vet. Seniors ‘hide’ illnesses better than their younger self so if your dog is lethargic, in pain, or seems out of sorts, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone. That’s what our partnership with our vet is for. Finally, remember regular check ups are vitally important at this stage in your senior dog's life.

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  • This is good information to have. I knew when my formerly piggish Norwegian elkhound didn’t want dinner there was something wrong. In hindsight there were other signs, but loss of appetite is one that you can’t miss if you know your dog’s eating habits.

    Lara Elizabeth on
  • These are all spot-on great tips, terrific post. Thanks for sharing!

    Amy Shojai, CABC on
  • Both my seniors lost a lot of weight when they had advanced cancer. Another appeared to have bad arthritis, but it was thyroid. It’s important to note changes from normal and not dismiss them as signs of old age.

    Val Silver on
  • Great post! My pal Abbey (13 years old) wasn’t eating, so they brought her into the vet, here she had an abscessed tooth that was causing her pain.

    Spencer the Goldendoodle on
  • Great Post. All pet parents should be aware of any of these signs in the aging dogs and get to the vet with their concerns.
    Thank you for share this great information.
    Paws & Wags

    Suzanne on

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