The secrets of aging dogs; what do you need to know?

A dog getting older

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Unlocking the mysteries of our dogs getting older, what do we really need be aware of to help support them?



Greying Fur

One of the most noticeable signs of aging in dogs is the greying of their fur. Just as we might find a few grey hairs ourselves, our four-legged friends go through a similar transformation. This greying occurs due to a decrease in melanin production, which gives colour to their coat. While some breeds may grey earlier or later, it is generally considered a normal part of the aging process. It’s commonly seen around their muzzles and eyes initially.

Joint Stiffness and Decreased Mobility

As dogs age, their joints undergo wear and tear, leading to stiffness and decreased mobility. You might notice that your furry friend struggles to stand up or climb stairs, or seems less enthusiastic about physical activities they once enjoyed. To alleviate their discomfort, consider incorporating joint supplements into their diet and offering low-impact exercise options. Consulting with your veterinarian can help develop a plan suited specifically to your dog’s needs, which may include a home visit for Librela or other pain medication. It’s important not just to accept their reduced mobility as ‘getting old’ when often it’s actually pain related.

Don’t just accept pets ‘slowing down’ when you see them struggling to walk or get upstairs. Often this is pain related, but they just don’t know how to tell you.

~ A very wise vet

Weight Gain or Loss

Weight changes are another common physical sign of aging in dogs. While weight gain can occur due to a decrease in metabolism, weight loss might indicate underlying health issues. It’s crucial to monitor your dog’s weight and maintain a balanced diet appropriate for their age and breed. Regular check-ups with your vet can help identify any potential concerns and ensure your furry friend maintains a healthy weight.

Cognitive Decline and Behavioural Changes

Just like humans, dogs can experience cognitive decline as they age. Signs of cognitive decline may include forgetfulness, disorientation, not sleeping, pacing the home, inappropriate elimination, or increased anxiety. This could be attributed to age-related changes in the brain or the development of Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). To support their cognitive health, provide a stimulating environment with interactive toys, engage in mental exercises, and maintain a consistent routine. There are some medications available from your vet that may help maintain or improve their cognitive ability.

Increased Sleep and Reduced Energy Levels

Older dogs often experience changes in sleep patterns and energy levels. You may notice your them sleeping more or becoming less active. To promote quality sleep, ensure your dog has a cosy and comfortable resting area, away from noise and disruptions. Keeping a regular routine can also be helpful. Tailor exercise routines to low-impact activities that help keep them active while minimising strain on their aging bodies.

Changes in Sensory Perception

Aging can cause a decline in dogs’ vision. You may observe your furry friend bumping into objects, hesitating in dimly lit areas, or noticing a cloudiness in their eyes. To assist visually impaired dogs, keep their environment consistent and free from obstacles. Consider using scents or textures to help them navigate their surroundings. It’s essential to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying eye conditions.

Hearing Loss

Just as humans experience age-related hearing loss, dogs can also lose their hearing as they get older. Signs of hearing loss include a lack of responsiveness to sounds and an increased startle response. While it is not possible to reverse hearing loss, effective communication becomes vital. Use visual cues, hand signals, and a calm and patient approach to communicate with your hearing-impaired furry friend.


Recognising the signs of aging in dogs is crucial for providing them with the care they need to remain happy and healthy. Monitoring physical changes, cognitive decline, and declining sensory perception allows us to adapt their environment and routines to accommodate their changing needs. Regular veterinary check-ups and open communication with our pets healthcare providers will ensure that they receive the best possible care throughout their aging journey. As we embrace their golden years together, let’s celebrate the love and joy our dogs bring into our lives, no matter how many grey hairs they may have!

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