A common concern many senior dog owners have is about when their pet appears to be "slowing down". This can mean different things to different people and also may have significantly different meanings to your dog's health.
For example, slowing down may mean that your dog wants to play for 45 minutes instead of an hour when he is 12 years old, or it may mean that he is sleeping more every day and not eating as well or having trouble getting up the stairs.
The real question is – how much slowing down is normal? A little slowing is normal as a dog ages. I generally don't worry too much as long as the dog is eating well, having normal bowel movements, maintaining his weight, breathing normally and still intermittently playful or active. If there are substantial changes in more than one of these areas, I may be a little worried.
The safest thing to do is to have your pet examined by your veterinarian. They may want to run routine blood work to screen for some common disease.
They say hindsight is 20/20. Over the years, I have seen a lot of pets presented on emergency with a significant problem and the owner tells me – "Well, we have noticed him "slowing down" a little over the past few weeks." Don't be fooled. Better safe than sorry. If you are worried, have your dog checked by your vet.
For more information on senior dogs, please read Commonly Asked Questions About Senior Dogs