Signs of Health Problems in Older Dogs

As dogs age, their immune system becomes weak and they are suseptable to many more illnesses. Be observant of your dog’s signs and symptoms. The following signs may indicate a health problem that you will need to get prompt veterinary attention.

Unlike humans, dogs age according to size with smaller dogs living longer than larger dogs. With this in mind, vetrinarians recommend that you begin brining your aging dog in for geriatric screening at the appropriate time according to his size.

Here are the most common guidelines for geriatric screening:

Up to 15 lbs.

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Begin screening at 9 to 11 years

16 to 50 lbs.

Begin screening at 7 to 9 years

51 to 80 lbs.

Begin screening at 6 to 8 years

Over 80 lbs.

Begin screening at 4 to 6 years

When you take your dog in for a geriatric screening, you vet will give your dog a thorough, hands-on physical exam and blood tests. If the situation dictates, possibly an electrocardiogram and specialized tests that are dependent on your dog’s past health.

Some vets recommend that you bring your dog in for semi-annual visits once they reach a senior age. If you feel this is too much, make sure you at least take your dog in for a once a year check up. As your dog becomes older, your vet needs to check many more things to maintain your dog’s health.

Between visits, pay attention to any changes that you notice in your dog. Be sure to make note of and report to your vet any of the following:

Sudden weight loss

An increase in appetite without gaining any weight

A loss of appetite



Becoming excessively out of breath

Increased thirst

Increased urination

Excessive panting


Difficulty moving

Behavioral changes

Excessive aggressiveness


Difficulty hearing

Difficulty seeing

All of these symptoms can be signs of serious problems that need to be attended to right away. By being watching for and being aware of these symptoms, you can get your dog the medical attention that he needs and perhaps prolong his life.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or doctor. Should you think that your pet needs medical attention, please contact your local veterinarian.  
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