Top 5 Health Concerns for Senior Dogs (Plus Treatment Options for Each)

Elderly pets are just like elderly people that become more prone to developing health problems. As pets enter their senior years, it’s important to be aware of the most common health concerns so you can catch them early and get treatment if necessary.

In addition, regular checkups for senior pets are essential to detecting health problems early. Here are the top most common health concerns for senior pets, plus how to address them.

1. Arthritis

Arthritis is a common condition that affects senior pets, especially dogs. It’s caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the joints, leading to pain and inflammation. Speak with your veterinarian about treatment options if your pet shows signs of arthritis, such as limping or stiffness.

There are many effective medicines available that can help relieve your pet’s pain and improve their mobility.

Signs of arthritis include:

  • Limping
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty getting up or lying down
  • Pain when touched
  • Reluctance to exercise or play

As a responsible human companion, you can help lessen the burden of your cat or dog suffering from arthritis by keeping them at a healthy weight. Remember that excess weight puts more strain on joints, so maintaining a healthy weight is vital for treating and preventing arthritis.

2. Cancer

Unfortunately, cancer is also common in senior pets. In fact, it is the leading cause of death in pets over the age of 10. Fortunately, with early detection and treatment, many pets can live long and happy lives after being diagnosed with cancer.

Some common general signs of cancer in pets are:

  • Lumps or bumps that appear suddenly and continue to grow
  • Sores that don’t heal
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

If these signs become evident, make an appointment with your veterinarian immediately. They will likely recommend some diagnostic tests, such as x-rays or biopsies, to determine if your pet has cancer.

After cancer diagnosis, there are many treatment options available. The type of treatment will depend on the type and stage of the cancer. Some common treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

3. Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is a common concern among senior pets, especially cats. It occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to function properly. This can result in a build-up of toxins in the blood and make your pet very ill.

Some common signs of kidney disease include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting

The type of treatment typically depends on the severity of the disease. Some common treatments include medication, special diets, and fluid therapy.

4. Dental Disease

Dental disease is also a common health concern in senior pets. It occurs when the teeth and gums become infected, leading to pain, inflammation, and tooth loss. Dental diseases can affect other organs, such as heart and kidney disease, if left untreated.

Some common signs of dental disease include:

  • Bad breath
  • Yellow or brown teeth
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Drooling

At your appointment with your veterinarian, they will likely recommend a professional dental cleaning to get rid of the tartar and bacteria from your pet’s teeth. In some cases, your pet may also need to have one or more teeth extracted.

5. Heart Disease

Heart disease in pets occurs when the heart muscle becomes weak and doesn’t pump as well as it should. This can result in congestive heart failure, which can be fatal. In severe cases, heart disease requires emergency veterinary services when your pet has trouble breathing, has a blue tinge to their gums, or collapses.

Some common signs of heart disease include:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

Your vet recommends the proper treatment after diagnosis, depending on the severity of the disease. Some common treatments include medication, weight management, and changes to your pet’s diet.


As your pet approaches their golden years, you should keep an eye for health concerns like these. If you see any changes in your pet’s health or behavior, make an appointment with your veterinarian immediately. Many pets can live happy lives with early detection and treatment.

Also, remember that regular pet wellness exams play a significant role in the early detection and treatment of many diseases. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian at least once a year for a check-up. Visit this page to learn more about how it works.