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Behavioral problems of four-legged seniors – Krakvet.pl knowledge base


Even the slightest changes in our pets’ behavior may indicate the development of certain diseases. Sometimes they are their first, or even only, sign. Particular vigilance should be exercised, especially in the case of four-legged seniors – if they develop behavioral problems, it may indicate a progressive disease. With age, the risk of various health problems increases, so if you notice disturbing or unexpected changes in your pet’s behavior or disruptions in its daily routine that are not caused by easily identifiable external factors, you should consult a veterinarian.

Find out what behavioral problems, disorders and behaviors in older dogs and cats should be consulted with a veterinarian.


One of the symptoms that should especially attract the owner’s attention is the pet’s disorientation. If your dog or cat begins to get lost in familiar places, or does not respond or responds with a delay to various stimuli, this may indicate the development of a disease or disorder. Another sign of disorientation is when a dog or cat does not recognize familiar places, people or other animals.

Confusion in older or elderly animals may indicate dementia, but it is not the only possible cause, so you should consult your veterinarian.

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Social problems

If your dog or cat has previously been friendly towards people or animals it encounters, willingly greets household members and is not timid, and a sudden change occurs that is not caused by an urgent, stressful situation, this should attract your attention. If your senior pet is less willing to greet household members, becomes fearful or aggressive in contact with other animals, or his interest in contact has noticeably increased or decreased, go to the vet.

Changes in your pet’s behavior may be caused by illness, a painful condition, or sensory problems.

Sleep and circadian rhythm disorders

Another sign of health problems in an elderly cat or dog is disruption of its daily rhythm and sleep problems. Dogs and cats generally like routine, so if this is disturbed by unknown factors, it should attract the owner’s attention. If your pet sleeps restlessly and wakes up frequently at night, or starts sleeping much more during the day, it may indicate health problems.

This type of behavior may result from dementia as well as other diseases and ailments – sleep problems may also cause discomfort or pain.

Check: When a dog is a senior – better understand your friend’s changing needs

Getting dirty at home

Problems with defecation and maintaining hygiene may also occur in a senior dog or cat. If your pet stops showing that it needs to be followed, goes for walks but still does its business at home, or starts urinating or defecating in random places, including in full view of the owner, you should immediately consult a veterinarian.

Similar problems may be a response to changes in the daily routine or stress, or, for example, a poorly selected or insufficiently cleaned litter box, but they can also be caused by various diseases, such as dementia.

Increased or decreased activity and stereotypy

Other signs of health problems in older dogs and cats are changes in the pet’s activity. Your pet may become dull and less active, or on the contrary – it may behave a bit hyperactive or often wander aimlessly. Stereotypes may also appear, i.e. constant repetition of certain aimless movements or grimaces.

Signs may include:

  • apathy or depression,
  • licking objects or owners,
  • staring at objects,
  • increased wandering,
  • decreased desire to discover new places.

See also: Senior cat – how to care for an older cat?

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Any sudden changes in the pet’s behavior should attract the owner’s attention – if in doubt, consult a veterinarian. The causes of such changes may be different, but it is worth keeping an eye on the pulse, because some changes in the pet’s behavior may be the first or even the only sign of the development of the disease. Particular vigilance should be exercised, especially in the case of older dogs and cats, as the risk of various health problems and diseases increases with age. Take care of the proper nutrition of your senior dog and cat, and consult any disturbing changes with your veterinarian.

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