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7 Signs of Illness in Aging Pets

Pet aging is often a subtle process. Pet owners may not notice a lot of aging signs right away. Here is a list of seven signs caregivers should look for in their aging pets that may indicate a health or medical issue your veterinarian can treat and often cure.

1. Slowing down

This may be caused by osteoarthritis, vision loss, obesity, heart disease, thyroid disease, or cancer.

2. Behavioral changes

Many behavioral changes  in aging pets indicate cognitive dysfunction, thyroid disease, brain disease, or chronic pain.

3. Weight changes

Unintentional weight changes may indicate heart disease or cancer. Weight loss may be due to dental disease, kidney disease, or diabetes, while weight gain can be a sign of arthritis or thyroid disease.

4. Appetite changes

Changes in appetite may be a sign of cancer or thyroid disease. Increased appetite is also seen in Cushing’s disease and diabetes. Decreased appetite could be a sign of dental disease, kidney disease, or heart disease.

5. Increased thirst

Increased drinking is a classic sign of diabetes. It is also a symptom of kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, or thyroid disease.

6. Household accidents

Urinary accidents may be a sign of bladder disease, kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, or diabetes. Bowel accidents could indicate spinal disease, osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, prostate disease, or chronic constipation.

7. Difficulty with sleeping

Sleep issues may signal cognitive dysfunction or pain.


Keep in mind that these symptoms do not mean there is a serious underlying illness. But, like any change in health, it’s best to get it checked out!

For example, dental disease is treatable; so are bladder and other infections that can disturb sleep, change eating patterns, and cause weight loss. An appetite change is quite common in aging pets and people; perhaps it’s time for wetter food or different treats.