Top Medical Conditions of Elderly Dogs

My husband and I have seen many an adopted dog through old age.  Owners need to be on the lookout for conditions that develop in many older dogs.  When a condition is recognized and treated early, older dogs can live a healthier,  longer life with minimum pain and suffering.



1.  Diabetes:  Older dogs that begin to drink more water than usual and are urinating more frequently need to be checked for diabetes.  Owners must give their diabetic dog injections of insulin two times a day.  My husband and I took a long time feeling comfortable injecting our dog with insulin, but the necessary injections did become easier with time.    A diabetic dog can lead a pretty full life, but as aging progresses, complications do set in.  Our dog Ashley became blind due to diabetes in his senior years.  Dogs do not need to follow special diets to control diabetes.


2.  Cushing’s Syndrome:  Thinning skin, loss of hair, lethargy, increased urination due to the need to drink more water may signal Cushing’s syndrome.  Cushing’s syndrome revs up the production of cortisol.  The overload of cortisol is usually due to a tumor in the dog’s pituitary gland.  Complications from Cushing’s Syndrome can kill a dog, so this condition must not be ignored.


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3.  Laryngeal Paralysis:  A dog who struggles every time he tries to take a breath could have laryngeal paralysis.  Big breeds usually succumb to laryngeal paralysis.   A weak bark or a dog that collapses due to not getting enough oxygen are symptoms of laryngeal paralysis.  Food or water can get into a dog’s lungs since the larynx does not close entirely when swallowing.  The only thing a vet can do to help a dog with this condition is to surgically tie back one side of the larynx to keep it open, and leave the other side closed.


4.  Incontinence:   Urinary incontinence does not allow a dog to control urine flow.  The urine just comes out and there is no way the dog can stop the flow.  Medication remedies urinary incontinence for many older dogs.  Large breed female dogs are the ones who have a greater incidence of urinary incontinence.  Some dogs do not respond to medications for urinary incontinence and surgery is the next step for controlling the problem.  Prostate problems are usually the cause of urinary incontinence in male dogs.


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5.  Gum Disease:   If owners do not brush their dogs teeth on a regular basis, then gum disease may develop later in life.  Bacteria that can harm your dog results from dental disease.  Older dogs suffering from gum disease may need a veterinarian to do a professional cleaning once a year to remove the problem tartar under the gums.  If gum disease is not attended to by a professional, then removal of the dog’s diseased teeth is the next step.




  1. All very good points about older dogs. Dont forget that dry hard foods help the teeth also. And always try to keep them exercising, that increases blood flow at any age and helps prevent many problems.

  2. @debbiekay, I’m so sad to read a post like this. I always feel so guilty whenever I think of our dogs. They seem so happy whenever I pay a visit to my parents. My father used to say they’re happy because they know I’ll give them a bath and dog food.

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