Sarah Wilson

Dog Expert

Older Dog Changes


Most dogs get a bit sore and arthritic as they age. How much and how much it bothers them varies dog-to-dog. Some of the common signs of soreness to watch for include:

  • Sitting up in front first before pulling their rear up when lying down
  • “Hopping” their hind legs up stairs two at a time instead of striding up
  • Hopping the same way in the rear when they run
  • Walking with their head low
  • Development of their neck and chest area so there is “a lot of dog” in front of the shoulders—their front end looks like it belongs to a bigger dog than the back end
  • Groaning when they lie down
  • Hesitating or refusing to jump in and out of the car or up and down off of furniture, cutting games they used to play short – esp. right after a spin or twist
  • Lying down to eat when they used to stand up

Home care that helps:

  • Keep your dog lean
  • Give joint supporting supplements
  • Use nonskid runners before and after corners, over slick flooring and especially at the bottom of stairs and below favorite furniture napping spots so your dog has a nonskid landing,
  • No chasing toys or balls on slippery surfaces
  • No ordinary fetch games (though up slopes can be fine)
  • No or minimal rough play with younger, bigger, rougher dogs
  • Supervise around children closely and respect the fact that pain can cause aggression; if a young child flops down on top of the dog for a hug and hurts him, the snap can happen before a thought does.

Medical care that helps includes:

  • Pain medication
  • Adequan injections
  • Acupuncture
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Chiropractic care

Taking these steps can help keep your old dog as comfortable as possible for as long as possible.


by Sarah Wilson,

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