What Are The Signs Of Old Age In Dogs? (6 Signs You Need To Be Aware Of)

What are the signs of old age in dogs? How does aging in dogs manifest? Keeping these questions in mind, let’s explore six of the most common signs that signify aging in dogs.

What Are the Signs of Old Age in Dogs?

Whether you like it or not, your dog will eventually start to age.

“Woof, really?!”

Yes, as such, you’ll want to look out for the signs before it creeps up on you and your pooch.

When you know what to expect with an ageing dog, it is much easier to prepare to help your dog spend their golden years in comfort.

If you’re anything like us, you have probably thought to yourself at one point or another, “My dog is getting older and I don’t think I can handle it!”.

The problem is there is no easy answer to the question: What are the signs of old age in dogs? While we would all love a cut-and-dry indication of when our dogs are reaching old age, this simply isn’t the case.

Instead, you must consider factors like breed, age, genetics, lifestyle, and much more.

With this in mind, while this guide can’t provide you with a specific age your dog will reach old age, we have equipped you with 6 signs to help determine what are the signs of an aging dog.

Key Points

While we all hope that our dog will live forever, this just isn’t the case – despite how much we wish it was.

Therefore, being aware of the signs of a dog getting old is very beneficial, saving you from any unexpected surprises and ensuring you can care for your loyal dog properly.

Some of the most common signs of canine old age include stiffer limbs, incontinence, fluctuating weight, and changes in their senses.

What Are The Signs Of Old Age In Dogs

As our dogs grow older, we might wonder, ‘what are the signs of old age in dogs?’ This question is crucial for giving our pets the best care. In this helpful guide, we’ll explore the clear signs that come with dogs aging, showing you what to look for as your furry friends enter their later years.

1. They Are Becoming Stiff

signs of aging in dogs

You may have noticed your dog becoming stiffer, especially in the morning or getting up from a nap.

“What, I’m just tired!”

Sure, pooch.

Well, unlike our pooch, you may have thought to yourself, “Awh, he’s just getting old!” However, according to a study in the Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, this isn’t related to your dog’s age. Instead, it is a sign of arthritis.

“Woof! What’s that?!”

Well, this is a painful joint condition affecting over 80% of dogs over the age of eight.

While many pet owners see stiffness as a normal ageing stage, it is best to see the veterinarian to ensure your pet isn’t suffering – here, they can provide pain relief if needed.

There are other ways to ensure your dog stays comfortable, like purchasing an orthopaedic dog bed – helping to soothe your dog’s tired muscles. Another good option is hydrotherapy – think of it as doggie yoga! Stiffness often begins in the back legs.

You might see your pooch start to struggle to get up from lying down or moving until their legs limber up again. Routine vet checkups can help to diagnose this as soon as possible with mobility checks.

2. Urinating Indoors

incontinence in old dogs

Incontinence is one of the signs pet owners should watch out for when asking, “What are the signs of old age in dogs?” Let’s look closer at incontinence, like having more accidents indoors, trouble controlling their bladder, and shifts in how they go to the bathroom.

If your dog is showing signs of straining to urinate or going to the bathroom all the time, it could indicate a kidney infection or a urinary tract infection.

Therefore, this could be a sign if your dog constantly asks to go to the bathroom.

Alternatively, you may find that your dog asks to go outside to the bathroom, only to come back inside and make a mess on the floor.

Well, while this isn’t ideal, the good news is that both conditions can be treated with medication prescribed by a vet.

If you notice your dog making messes in the same place each time they go in the house, you could move their food bowl to this place to deter them from using this space as their bathroom.

You should always be aware of the indications of an ageing dog to identify these changes in behaviour quickly.

3. Deafness

As previously mentioned, one of the significant signs that your dog is ageing is when they begin to lose their hearing – whether that’s slight deafness to complete hearing loss.

While it can be hard to determine whether your dog is going deaf or simply has selective hearing in their old age – all hearing dogs will come running to a tin full of biscuits.

Isn’t that the right pooch?


As long as this deafness doesn’t come with a head tilt, ear pain, or swelling of the skull, then deafness isn’t something you should be too concerned about. These are all worrying symptoms that need to be checked by a vet immediately.

That said, you may want to consider keeping your dog on their lead while on walks and potentially teaching them sign language commands instead.

4. Development Of Degenerative Diseases

degenerative conditions in old dogs

Degenerative conditions become a pertinent concern as dogs age. ‘What are the signs of a dog getting old?’ takes on a specific context as we explore the manifestations of degenerative conditions, such as arthritis, joint stiffness, and mobility issues.

Some degenerative diseases come with age – leaving your canine companion confused and often stressed. In some cases, this can even lead to doggy depression.

If you notice your dog is in a lot of pain, it is best to visit the veterinarian, who can give you a remedy. Signs of pain include aggression, hiding away from you, whining, and changes in temperament.

In the meantime, you’ll want to provide them with a comfortable bed where they can relax.

Below, we have outlined the most common degenerative diseases found in senior dogs. These include:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Elbow dysplasia

Unfortunately, senior dogs are more likely to develop and suffer from neurodegenerative diseases, including Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CCDS). This is otherwise known as doggy dementia.

This can directly influence any behavioural changes and the appearance of new, inconsistent, and strange habits.

During these changes, showing your canine companion patience, affection, and love is essential to reassure them that they are safe and you are looking out for them.

You should keep in mind that a dog suffering from doggy dementia may forget where you are or where their food is. Therefore, keeping a close eye on them and providing them with the necessary help should be a priority.

5. Changes In Weight

weight gain in old dogs

Exploring this guide on ‘What are the signs of old age in dogs?’ gives us a perspective on how the aging process can influence a dog’s weight.

Changes in weight can be a kicker for all of us… not only dogs.

“Woof, glad we’re not the only ones!”.

Those days when you could eat whatever you wanted and it would shed away instantly thanks to your mid-20-something metabolism are long gone.

This is the same for your canine companions, too. Maintaining a healthy weight is fundamental to ensuring your dog lives longer without disease.

The good news is that this can be addressed by introducing a new exercise program or adjustments to your dog’s diet, such as a specific senior dog food.

If you notice your dog is gaining weight due to ageing, you can feed them more foods containing fibre (this helps the food move through the system before it gets absorbed).

Plus, there are tons of low-calorie dog foods available on the markets, too.

Furthermore, if you notice dramatic changes in your dog’s waistline, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian to determine if there are no underlying health issues.

6. Sudden Blindness

Let’s delve deeper into ‘What are the signs of an aging dog?’ to understand how sudden blindness can occur unexpectedly. Watch out for signs such as confusion, increased clumsiness, and reluctance to move in familiar places.

Renal problems can result in your dog suffering from high blood pressure.

There are many reasons for this, including sodium retention, sympathetic nerve stimulation, and the activation of the renin-angiotensin system.

One of the most extreme signs of high blood pressure in dogs is sudden blindness.

If your dog is struggling to see or seems to be bumping into objects, get it checked out immediately.

7. Cloudy Eyes And Sight Loss

cloudy eyes and sight loss in old dogs

Cloudiness in dog’s eyes can be an early sign of aging. Regularly asking, “What are the signs of old age in dogs?” prompts awareness of this subtle change.

A condition known as nuclear sclerosis can cause your dog’s eyes to cloud over – another common sign your dog is getting older.

Despite this looking similar to cataracts – due to the blue-white hue – it is generally considered normal in older dogs.

As a result, your dog may appear to be losing their eyesight. That said, this is very gradual, and dogs suffering from nuclear sclerosis are likely to see for a long time.

In fact, many veterinarians don’t recommend any treatments for nuclear sclerosis since it is a normal part of ageing for dogs.


It’s hard to see your dog age before your eyes. While they can’t express it verbally, being aware of the answers to the question, ‘what are the signs of an aging dog’ allows you to provide the specific care they need. With understanding, respect, and love, you can ensure they are as comfortable as possible through their golden years.

What are the signs of old age in dogs? By knowing these signs, you’ll be ready for the onset of age-related physical and behavioral changes in your senior canine companion.

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