Illnesses to look for in old dogs

by Amy Cooper
Old Jack Russel

Just like us ageing can have many effects on dogs. So, in this post I will be discussing common health problems in aging dogs and how to spot them. Spotting problems early on will mean that your dog can age happily and smoothly.

Signs your dog is getting old

Old Jack Russel sleeping - Illnesses to look for in old dogs
Photo taken by – Amy Cooper

According to the kennel club these are some common signs your dog is getting old:

  • reduced appetite/losing weight
  • increased drinking
  • smelly breath
  • lumps or bumps
  • lethargy/increased tiredness
  • exercise intolerance
  • coughing
  • difficulty passing urine or faeces
  • disorientated or having trouble with balance

Now you know the common signs your dog is getting old. I will explain the most common health issues dogs get as they age and how to spot them.

Hearing and/or vision loss

It’s very common for older dogs to lose their hearing or vision just like it is in humans. Hearing or vision loos should be quite easy to spot in dogs. It could be as simple as them not hearing commands or bumping into things whilst walking. Cataracts are very common in older dogs and are also quite easy to spot. It will look like your dog’s eyes have gone cloudy. 

Joint problems

Again, it’s very common for older dogs to have joint problems just like humans. Although joint problems can be harder to spot as dogs are very good at hiding pain. Some signs that your dogs’ joints may be hurting is a reluctance to go on walks, go upstairs and jump. Hip/elbow dysplasia and arthritis are common joint conditions that are common in older dogs. These will present in the same ways I’ve already said above. But if your dog is particularly struggling with one joint, they may become lame on that leg. 


I’m sure you’re already starting to notice the theme here. Because again cancer is common in older dogs just like humans. Cancer can be a very difficult one to notice if the tumour isn’t just under the skin where it can be felt/seen. All you can do is keep an eye on your dog and if they start to lose weight, go off their food or just behave unusually go to the vets. It’s always worth a trip to the vet if your dog is behaving different to normal just in case something is going on. 

Heart problems

Heart problems are also common in older dogs just like humans. This one is similar to cancer when it comes to spotting it. Always be aware of any changes in your dogs’ behaviour. Some things to look for that could suggest heart problems are coughing, difficulty breathing, exercise intolerance and unexplained vomiting

Gastrointestinal issues

Although gastrointestinal issues aren’t normally serious, they are common in older dogs. Things to look out for are vomiting or diarrhoea. It could just be that your dog has developed a sensitive stomach so needs a gentler food. But if the vomiting or diarrhoea doesn’t clear up take your dog to the vets.

 I hope you found this post useful! Finally, if you notice anything unusual with your dog always take them to the vets to be checked over. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

You may also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy