Older dogs

Senior dogs

In general, dogs aged seven years and older will start to slow down as they age and many of their needs will begin to change. With large breeds, these changes can take place a little earlier.

Being aware of these issues, and continuing to give your dog lots of love and affection, will mean you can enjoy many senior years together.

A weighty issue

Obesity is an all-too common problem for older dogs and it needs to be monitored carefully as it can lead to a whole range of health issues, including diabetes, heart and respiratory problems and arthritis.

With less energy being expended it makes sense that you’ll need to adjust what your dog is eating. If you notice weight gain, try a low calorie senior food or a specially formulated ‘light’ product that is lower in fat, but still contains all the vitamins and minerals your dog needs.

Plus, pull back on the treats. As much as we love to spoil our best mate, sometimes we can kill them with kindness, especially where food treats are concerned. There are many healthy doggy treats on the market to choose from. Or why not try rawhide chews, which are also good for their teeth.

Speak to your vet about the diet they recommend for your dog or a special diet if they do need to lose a kilo or two.

A different approach to food

As dogs age, their sense of smell and taste can begin to fade and chewing can become more of an effort. Smaller portions of dry food and wet food with a higher meat content served at room temperature should help assist this issue.

Also, remember to seal dry food packets tightly to retain the aromas your dog responds to. Some older dogs will also start to prefer a little grazing as opposed to big meals, so if this is the case feed them smaller serves more often.


Keep an eye out for this common ailment in older dogs.

Signs might include changes in the way your dog sits up or lies down and hesitation around stairs or steep inclines, slow to move or stiffness in the morning or sometimes be unwilling to want to get up.

If spotted early, arthritis can be managed by your vet throughout your dog’s senior years, and good management can help improve quality of life as they age.

Things you should know

The information provided is general information only and is not a substitute for professional veterinary medical advice. Medibank Private does not guarantee the accuracy of any of the information, representations or advice contained. To the extent permitted by law, Medibank Private accepts no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by readers of this website as a result of or in connection with the information contained on this website (whether by way of negligence or otherwise).

Terms, conditions and waiting periods apply.

* - Medibank Pet Insurance is general insurance issued by the insurer The Hollard Insurance Company Pty Ltd (ACN 090 584 473; AFSL 241436) (Hollard), is promoted by Medibank Private Limited (ACN 080 890 259; AR 286089) (Medibank) and administered by PetSure (Australia) Pty Ltd (ACN 075 949 923; AFSL 420183) (PetSure). Medibank acts as an authorised representative of PetSure. Medibank will receive a commission which is a percentage of the premium paid to Hollard and PetSure may receive a portion of the underwriting profit, if any - ask PetSure for more details.

Any advice provided is general only, has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and may not be right for you. Consequently, before acting on this information, you should consider the appropriateness of this information having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. You should obtain and consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) in deciding whether to acquire, or continue to hold, Medibank Pet Insurance. PetSure can be contacted by telephone: 132 331 or by mail: Locked Bag 9021, Castle Hill, NSW 1765.

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