Dog Tips

About Taking Care of Senior Dogs

Seniority comes with experience and wisdom. And in the case of both humans and dogs, some health issues as well. They say that taking care of an elder human is somewhat similar to taking care of a young baby. Even this is true for both humans and our four-legged canine buddies. 

Seniority for different dog breeds comes at a different age since the average lifespan of each breed is different. For large breeds like the Great Dane, Saint Bernard, Tibetan Mastiff, etc. the average lifespan ranges between 8-12 years. Smaller breeds like Shih Tzu, Pomeranian, Pug, Chihuahua, etc. live for much longer than their large counterparts. Their average lifespan is around 15-18 years. In either case, when a dog is at its senior age, some somethings need extra attention and care. 

  • Older dogs need more rest.

  • They may need to use the toilet more frequently. 

  • Their energy levels drop significantly.

  • Their bones are not as strong.

  • They are more prone to illnesses as compared to the younger ones.

More such things affect senior dogs. We’ve tried to answer the most common questions pet owners have regarding their senior dogs.  

What is The Senior Dog Diet?

You can consider your dog a senior one once they have lived for 75% of their life expectancy. And once it happens, their diet will need a little more attention than before. Older dogs are prone to obesity and hence diabetes. Pet food manufacturers create multiple nutrient profiles, a combination of protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, and minerals and market their products for the different stages of a dog’s life. However, before switching to a senior dog diet, we recommend you consult a vet. 

A senior dog’s diet depends on their health conditions as well. There are no established nutrient requirements for senior dogs. But one thing we know is they need a low-calorie diet. To ensure this, you need to take care of the following – 

  • Avoid products marketed as ‘for all life stages.’ Most of them are formulated for growing puppies and can lead to nutrient excess in senior ones. 

  • Ensure proper hydration at all times. Senior dogs may sometimes forget to drink water. 

  • Avoid keeping food outside and practice portion feeding. Divide the daily food intake into equal 2-3 meals spread evenly throughout the day. 

  • Consult your vet once before going all out on dog treats. Most of them are loaded with calories. 

  • You can try water-based vegetables, like fresh or frozen green beans, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, and lettuce. They are low in calories, hence a good guilt-free snack for them.

Why is My Older Dog Peeing in the House?

We know that you potty-trained your dog years ago and everything was fine until you saw your dog, who is not so young anymore, peeing inside the house. Firstly, it is normal in older dogs. However, it may also be a sign of an underlying medical condition. The most common reasons for your dog to start urinating in the house are – 

  • Kidney disease

  • Hormonal imbalance

  • UTI or urinary tract infections

  • Bladder stones

  • Low estrogen levels

  • Arthritis 

  • Bladder cancer

Apart from these, there can be some neurological issues that can cause this, 

  • Anxiety

  • Stress

  • Changes in routine

  • Confusion

  • Irritation, etc.

You won’t be able to diagnose these issues by yourself. It is recommended that you consult a vet if the occurrences are frequent. The best way to stop your dog from peeing in the house is to identify the underlying cause and cure it.

My Senior Dog Won’t Eat! What May be Causing This?

Lack of appetite is another common complaint that many pet parents with an older dog have. There can be multiple reasons for your dog eating less or not eating at all. These include – 

  • Gastrointestinal diseases

  • Arthritic pain

  • Dental problems

  • Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or Dog Dementia 

  • Reaction to certain medications

  • Anxiety or stress

  • Diseases like kidney stones or infection, heart disease, cancer, etc.

Lack of appetite will most of the time, be accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, etc. If you happen to notice a combination of such symptoms, it is best to consult a vet. Upon successful diagnosis, your vet will be able to treat the underlying medical condition and your dog may start eating normally soon!

How is Arthritis in Older Dogs?

If you see the following signs in your dog, there is a high chance that it is suffering from arthritis.

  • Difficulty or reluctance to stand from a lying position

  • Difficulty climbing stairs or jumping onto a bed 

  • Taking a narrow stance in the rear limbs

  • Licking or chewing on pain areas

  • Limping, etc.

The breeds that are more prone to arthritis include – 

While arthritis is more common in the above dog breeds once they become older, it can be caused due to the following reasons as well – 

  • Ligament injury or broken bones

  • Hip or elbow dysplasia 

  • Too much exercise during puppyhood, etc.

It may become a little difficult to cure arthritis completely in senior dogs but there are some ways you can control the pain and improve the pet’s life. 

  • Weight control

  • Exercise moderation

  • Environment modification like providing a soft bed

  • Medical treatment after consulting a vet

  • Therapies like stem cell

While age-related arthritis cannot be prevented, its risk can be lowered by adopting a healthy lifestyle for your dog. 

More About Spot Pet Insurance

With age, the chances of your dog getting affected by illnesses get higher. And the treatment of the same becomes more tedious and expensive. 

Spot accident and illness plans can be used with any licensed vet in Canada or the U.S. Whether you are home, or traveling to the U.S., veterinary services your pet receives for the diagnosis, treatment, or management of covered conditions can be eligible for reimbursement. Spot’s accident and illness plans can help cover a variety of conditions including; broken bones, lacerations, aggression, kidney disease, diabetes, and more. With the addition of Wellness Riders for an extra cost, you can also receive reimbursements for wellness exams, certain vaccinations, dental cleanings, and more. 

Learn more about dog insurance or get a free quote!


  1. Cross, B. (n.d.). Arthritis in dogs. Blue Cross.

  2. Cva, J. B. D. C. (2024, March 6). Why is my old dog not eating? 2 Vets share causes, tips. Dr. Buzby’s ToeGrips for Dogs.

  3. Dr S Halperin BVMS MRCVS. (2024, April 10). Top Dog Breeds Prone to Arthritis (+ Symptoms & Solutions). Stem Cell Vet UK.

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