Sad dog

Ageing

Ageing in dogs

Doesn’t it seem like only yesterday that your dog was getting ready for his first day at puppy training school? Time sure does fly. And just like people, dogs begin to lose their memory, awareness, ability to learn, sight and hearing as they get older. Ageing also messes with their sleep-wake cycles, so they often become restless at night and sleepy during the day.

Signs of ageing

Here are a few signs that may suggest your dog is not as sprightly as he or she used to be:

Affected by extreme heat and cold

  • may not like sitting outside in the middle of summer or winter any more.
  • prefers lying on the rug, rather than the tile floor.

Stiff joints

  • slow to walk around
  • trouble getting up after a nap

Loss of hearing and sight

  • doesn’t hear you when you call
  • stares at objects for a long time

Changes in skin and coat

  • changes in skin and coat
  • coat loses lustre
  • losing hair
  • wounds are healing slower
  • allergies are getting worse.

Common behaviour changes in ageing dogs

While every dog changes in different ways as they get older, some of the most common behaviours of ageing dogs are:

  • staring at objects
  • wandering aimlessly
  • barking and whining more
  • losing their appetite
  • not looking after themselves as well as they used to
  • forgetting commands
  • forgetting good habits such as house training
  • being more anxious
  • reacting aggressively
  • becoming more clingy and dependent, or
  • showing less interested in affection, petting and playing.

When you understand the changes your dog is going through, it can help you to compassionately and effectively deal with any behaviour problems that may arise in their senior years.

Is it definitely ageing?

If your dog’s behaviour does change significantly, you should see your vet. Don’t assume that it’s just part of getting old and nothing can be done to help them. The behaviour may be the sign of a treatable medical disorder.

Do all breeds age the same way?

No. While the average age that dogs hit ‘senior’ is seven years, is varies from breed to breed. In general, giant breeds tend to age early, and their life expectancy is usually less than 10 years. Large and medium-sized breeds have a life expectancy of 11-14 years. Small dogs can live 15 years or more.