Cleo is almost 11 years old and starting to show signs of aging. Graying around the face and muzzle, reduced hearing, weight gain and she is less active. The signs of aging differ greatly from dog to dog and breed to breed. The size of the dog is the main factor. Small dogs live much longer than large dogs. Individual health, genetics, and spirit also affect geriatric status.

Owners of Toy and Miniature Poodles can expect their dogs to live fifteen to eighteen years. Around the age of twelve they are considered a senior citizen. The Standard Poodle has an average life span of twelve years and is considered a senior citizen about eight years of age.

Recognizing when your poodle qualifies as a senior will help you understand changes in behavior and will help to identify health problems at an early stage.

Signs to watch for as your poodle ages:

  • Graying around the face, muzzle – Most dogs commonly show a bit of gray starting at middle age.
  • Weight gain and increased body fat – Due to a slower metabolism rather than an increase in appetite.
  • Change in skin and coat – Fur may appear dull and lifeless. Skin may have more lumps. Callused elbows. Brittle nails which crack easily.
  • Behavior changes – Confused or disoriented. Loss of housebreaking skills. Sleeping more.
  • Sensitive to Heat and Cold – Seeks a spot in the sun or next to the radiator. Pants excessively in the heat.
  • Hearing loss – This is often a gradual loss. Dog may startle easily, especially when sleeping. There isn’t a lot that can be done for age-related hearing loss, but a vet exam should be done first to rule out other medical problems and infection.
  • Declining vision – Squinting, discharge, redness
  • Cloudy or “bluish” eyes – As they age, dog’s eyes often show a bluish transparent “haze” in the pupil area. This is a normal effect of aging. Vision does not appear to be affected.
  • Cataracts are white and opaque – Vision can be affected by cataracts, and your vet needs to be consulted.
  • Loss of smell or taste – If your poodle is losing their sense of smell or taste, this may be reflected as a loss of appetite.
  • Tooth/gum disease – Decrease in appetite. Red inflamed gums.
  • Decreased mobility – Slips and slides on shiny surfaces. Can’t jump onto the bed or into the car.
  • Joint pain – Limps. Walks slowly. Less running and jumping.
  • Muscle atrophy – Mild loss of muscle mass, especially the hind legs, may be seen with old age.
  • Kidney issues – Drinks and urinates more frequently than in the past.
  • Urinary incontinence – Increase in urinary tract infections.

You know your poodle better than anyone and if you sense something is wrong, see your vet.