Dogs go through life phases just like we do. As they age, you will notice many things will change and that’s why it’s important for you to understand aging dog behaviors.
Some changes are visible. Your dog’s activity level might be the first thing to drop, marking the entrance in the senior years. Then his fur might change. It will include more gray hair, just like we humans get, and his coat will become less smooth and silky.
Although it might break your heart knowing that your pup doesn’t have many years left to be by your side, you should still feel lucky that your beloved pooch made it into his golden years. Being old is never super fun for anyone, and that’s also true for your dog.
To help your dog stay young as long as possible, it’s crucial to pay attention to his nutrition, exercise and mental stimulation requirements. Maintaining a good routine for your dog will prevent many potential diseases from forming as your dog ages.
Despite your best efforts, however, you can’t prevent some aging dog behaviors.
A lot of people are somehow surprised when their pup isn’t hyperactive dog anymore aren’t prepared for the inevitable changes that will come. That’s why it is crucial to understand what aging means in the canine world, and how you can help your dog live his golden years in the best way possible.
Watch for these common aging dog behaviors as your dog enters his senior years.
Go potty inside
You spent a lot of hours potty training your dog when he was still a puppy, and he quickly learned where he should potty. And then, all of a sudden, your dog starts going potty inside the house again. Is he punishing you for something or could this mean he has a UTI?
Well, the truth is that it might not be either of the two. As dogs age, their mobility decreases and they might have a more frequent need to potty, while not having the same control over their bladder or bowels.
This doesn’t mean that your dog can’t readjust again. He just needs some support, some more potty training, and some additional rewards in order to get back on the right track.
If the positive reinforcement approach doesn’t work, then you might have to check with your veterinarian if there are some underlying health issues that could be causing this problem.
When dogs get older, their senses start gradually deteriorating, and the first sense to start declining is their vision. With blurry sight, the world around them might suddenly seem like a much scarier place than it was before.
Because they find it harder to navigate, senior dogs might get scared more easily of loud or sharp noises and even bark at objects that are near. In case you see that your dog is getting too fearful and he’s starting to form some anxious behavior, it might be wise to consider therapies that will keep your dog calm such as using calming bites.
Also, you might want to check your dog’s eyes, because some eye problems can be resolved with simple surgeries.
Of all the changing aging dog behaviors that occur, a decline in activity is the most common. It shouldn’t surprise you that those long walks your pooch used to enjoy as a puppy aren’t really that exciting anymore.
While you definitely shouldn’t tire your senior dog with strenuous exercise, you still have to make sure your Fido gets enough daily walks and physical activity.
It’s also important to maintain mobility to prevent weight gain. Senior dogs can gain weight more easily because their metabolism slows down, and they move less than before. When they gain too many pounds, they can develop arthritis and joint issues more easily.
Some dogs become more vocal when they enter their senior years. That usually doesn’t mean your dog is trying more to communicate with you.
More often, excessive vocalizing is an indication of an underlying health problem. Your dog could bark or howl more often because he feels disoriented due to a cognitive decline or deteriorating vision or hearing.
The reason behind the “talkative senior dog” might also be pain caused by joint problems or arthritis. So, if you notice that your old pooch starts howling more, see your vet for a thorough checkup to rule out major health conditions.
Due to underlying health issues, dogs can change the way they behave. This is true when they are younger, but it can become even more pronounced as they age.
Some health issues such as dementia are linked to age and can lead to drastic dog behavioral changes. For instance, a dog might start showing aggression even if he has been a loving, well-tempered dog until now.
If your dog suffers from some sort of cognitive dysfunction, he might become less enthusiastic about greeting you or seem a bit confused in certain situations. Slight changes are normal, but if a dog completely loses his will to move or has reactions that are way too slow, then it is a big sign that you should talk to your vet about ways to increase your dog’s cognitive activity.
Aging dogs tend to sleep more, but they also lose the quality of their sleep. This means that you will probably find your dog taking naps more frequently throughout the day and that your dog might start waking up at night more often or waking up too early.
You also may discover that noises that previously didn’t bother your dog now disrupt his sleep.
To prevent your dog from barking at night, try taking a slightly longer walk in the evening or have an extended period of playtime before bedtime so you can wear your dog out and help provide him a more serene sleep.
Appetite or weight change
Monitor your dog’s food intake. If your dog starts gaining weight without an increase in the amount he eats or a decrease in exercise, it could be a sign he’s ill.
When dogs gain weight rapidly for no apparent reason, it could be a sign your dog suffers from an underactive thyroid or Cushing’s Disease, which is caused by the overproduction of cortisol.
If your dog starts losing weight or shows no interest in eating, that can be a warning of cancer, liver problems, or kidney failure. It also may mean your dog is in pain from a condition like arthritis or hip dysplasia.
Help your dog age gracefully
Caring for a senior pet has challenges, but you want to provide the best possible care for your dog.
Watch for aging dog behaviors and work to help your dog adjust. Aging isn’t easy but with some extra TLC, you can help your dog manage the changes.
Barking Royalty is a website that has cared about your dog’s wellbeing since 2015. We want to make the journey with your fluffy friend as stress-free as possible. Therefore, Barking Royalty has teamed up with veterinarians and dog experts to provide dog owners with trustworthy, reliable information for all of their dog-related issues or doubts.