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Help! My Senior Dog has Behavior Changes

Shaggy dog running across a field

It is quite natural for dogs to have changes in their behavior due to aging. For example, they will become less active and quieter with time. However, some other changes can indicate health problems for older dogs and will cause a lot of concern to the owners. Read on to know about your senior dog’s behavior changes and learn how you can help him/her to overcome them.

Common Behavior Changes in Senior Dogs

Sometimes, owners may not recognize the signs of aging, including behavioral changes. The following are some common behavior changes in senior dogs that can indicate their inconvenience.


Tan hound laying on a blue blanket on hardwood floors

This is the most common change in a dog that is entering old age. Your senior dog will appear tired and quite restless all the time. This can cause your dog to sleep more and lag on walks. Restlessness can even affect your dog’s interest in activities, like fetching or tug of war.

Older dogs can develop a range of medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism and heart disease. These diseases can also make your canine restless because they reduce his/her stamina. Cognitive dysfunction can also increase restlessness in senior dogs.

Weight Loss

Old dog laying on a tile floor

Just like a human, it is difficult for dogs to maintain lean muscle mass after a specific age. Senior dogs can also lose weight because of various medical conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and kidney disease.

Increased Anxiety

close up of a Chihuahua with a gray face

Some senior dogs may develop new fears (including separation anxiety) as they grow old. There are several signs from which you can identify that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety. Excessive nervousness when left alone and following you all the time are the most common ones.

Anxiety can also lead to negative behaviors, like damaging furniture in your absence. It is also a common cause of dog whining at night.

Sudden Personality Changes

Chihuahua giving a high five to a human hand

Dogs may become more complaining as they grow old. Pain is the biggest reason for augmented irritation in older dogs. Another reason for sudden personality change is Dementia or cognitive dysfunction. It is quite frustrating for senior dogs because they can develop memory problems. They will look confused as well as fearful and can suffer from severe anxiety at night.

House Soiling

Over head view of a jack russell terrier looking up at owner with a puddle of pee on the tile floor

The most destructive behavior of senior dogs is house soiling. This is because it can destroy your household things. It is more shocking for owners because this type of behavior mostly occurs in previously house-trained dogs. The reason for inappropriate urination is that the senior dogs can lose tone in the sphincter muscles.

Medical conditions, like dementia, Cushing’s disease, or kidney disease can also lead to accidents. Dogs might have to go more often with such a disease and owners might find it hard to understand. Lack of vision may also be the reason for house soiling as your dog might not spot the right potty place.

What to Do if My Senior Dog has Behavior Changes?

Beagle laying down on a blue and white blanket

Keeping your older dog as healthy and comfortable as possible should be your primary goal. There are several ways to help your senior dog avoid potential diseases. Some of these tips and solutions are discussed below.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Yellow labrador laying on hardwood floors with a stainless steel food bowl.

This is the most important thing that you can do for your dog. You can also add some high-quality nutrition to your canine’s diet. You can feed the ideal amount of good food to your dog (depending upon weight) to prevent many diseases.

Explore Effective Supplements

Wooden spoons with dietary supplements in each one.

If your dog is feeling restlessness or having joint pains, it is recommended to use veterinarian-formulated supplements. These supplements can help in reducing inflammation and slow down joint disease.

Omega-3 supplements are useful fatty acids and can be beneficial to your dog’s overall immune system. Melatonin supplements are for those dogs that have trouble sleeping at night. Likewise, milk thistle supplement is beneficial for the liver and eyes.

Use an Orthopedic Bed

Old dog asleep in a dog bed.

Senior dogs need proper care and attention to live well. They often have pains in their bodies or joints due to which they tend to sleep more. However, an uncomfortable bed can exaggerate the soreness. It is best to provide a high-quality orthopedic dog bed to your dog in this situation. It not only improves the lives of your older dog but also supports his or her overall health and wellness.

Keep Your Dog Busy

Human playing the cup game with a dog

It’s important to provide your senior dog with sufficient mental stimulation and physical activity. You should schedule proper playing and exercise sessions and follow the routine to keep them happy. Regular exercise can benefit your dog’s heart and musculoskeletal system and promote general happiness. You can also use treats to teach your dog some new behaviors to keep them occupied.

Consult Your Vet

German shepherd being examined bu a vet

It is the most recommended solution for behavior changes in senior dogs. This is particularly useful if you are handling them for the first time. Taking your dog to the vet for regular checkups can keep your dog away from several diseases. Other than that, you can use a vet or professional canine behaviorist to manage certain behavior issues, like separation anxiety.

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