5 Symptoms to Watch for in Your Older Dog


If you have an older dog, there are a few different health issues that you need to look for. Knowing the common signs that are seen in these dogs can help you detect them earlier and start treatment earlier.  With any disease, the earlier that you start treatment, the quicker your dog will recover from their illness. The following are common health issues that are seen in a dog.  If your older dog is sick or just not acting right, it would be best for your dog to see your vet right away. The earlier you start treating, the better the outcome.


Unfortunately, cancer is commonly seen in older dogs. You may start to notice a few lumps and bumps on your dog as they start to get older.  If you find a mass on your dog, it would be best for your vet to take a small sample of these masses to see if they are cancerous.  If they are, your vet can discuss the different treatment options for these masses. 

Common signs of cancer that is seen in older dogs are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Not eating
  • Lethargic
  • Drastic weight loss
  • A Physical mass present on your dog

If you notice any of these signs, it would be best for your dog to see your vet right away. If you remove the masses before they start to spread, the better the outcome you will have for your dog.

Heart disease

An older dog can develop heart disease. Small dogs have mitral valve disease where the valves in their heart do not function properly. Larger dogs have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy where their heart gets bigger.  Common signs of heart disease in dogs are:

  • Coughing
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Difficulty breathing

If you notice that your dog has any of these issues, it would be best for your dog to see your vet right away, as they can also be signs of other life-threatening issues.

If your older dog does have heart issues, your vet will want to take x rays of your dog’s heart to see how big it is and if there are any issues with your older dog’s lungs.  They may also want to start their dog on heart medication to help it function better and decrease any side effects their heart disease is causing.


Older dogs tend to develop arthritis as they get older. You may notice that your older dog is limping or having trouble getting up after a nap. These are all common signs of arthritis in dogs. If you notice that your dog is having issues with mobility, it would be best for your vet to look at your dog.  These signs could be arthritis, but there could be something more severe going on. 

If your dog does have signs of arthritis, your vet will want to take x rays to see how severe their arthritis has progressed. Your vet may start your dog on medication to help decrease pain and inflammation and supplements to help them be able to move much better.

Dental Disease

Dental disease is common in small breed dogs.  As your dog ages, you may start to notice that your dog’s breath smells very bad. If you do not brush your dog’s teeth every day, your older dog will develop tartar on their teeth. Common signs of dental disease in a dog are:

  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the face
  • Difficulty eating
  • Foul-smelling breath

If you notice any of these issues, it would be best for your dog to see your vet for a dental cleaning. This will be done just like dental cleaning for people.  Once the tartar is off your dog’s teeth, you can start brushing your dog’s teeth or giving them dental chews to help their breath stay fresh.

Urinary and Kidney Disease

Older dogs can have urinary issues or kidney disease that causes them to urinate frequently.  Common signs of urinary or kidney disease are:

  • Urinating a lot
  • Drinking a lot of water
  • Bloody urine
  • Pain when urinating

If you notice any of these issues, it would be best that your vet examine your dog and check a urine sample. Common issues that your dog could have that would cause them to have urinary, or kidney disease are

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Incontinence
  • Chronic Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Bladder stones
  • Bladder cancer

All of these diseases can easily be diagnosed by your vet.  They can discuss the different treatment options based on what is causing your dog to have urinary issues.


How Can I Keep My Dog Physically Healthy?


There are many things that you can do to ensure that your dog lives a long and healthy life. These are some recommendations that you can follow to ensure that your dog stays physically healthy.

  • Feed a good quality diet: A proper diet will help your dog stay healthy and happy.
  • Schedule regular routine checkups: At these checkups, you can discuss any issues with your dog, and they can make sure that there is not anything alarming that needs to be addressed immediately.
  • See your vet as soon as you notice anything wrong: As soon as you notice that there is something off with your dog, take them to your vet. The earlier you start treating an issue, the better the outcome.
  • Give your dog plenty of physical and psychological exercise: exercise is not only great for your dog’s physical health but also their mental health.

Final Thoughts

Paying attention to your dog’s physical health will help your dog live a long and healthy life.  There are these five common issues that you need to be aware of with an older dog and start to treat as soon as you notice any issues. By working with your vet, you can keep your dog healthy and happy for many years by providing a quality diet and the proper supplement for their health condition.It can be hard watching them get old, but we can do our very best to keep them healthy as long as possible. 


Check out my book The Senior Dog Wellness Guide for more information

"Loved this book. Even if people have owned a "senior" dog before, I am sure there will be something to learn from this book as I have. Sally's approach to dogs is so kind and compassionate. Topics such as diet and supplements, cognition, mental stimulation and health problems are covered. Sally encourages the reader to look at their senior dog in a "holistic" way which is so vital for our dogs"


The Senior Dog Wellness Guide 


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