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Is Altered Behavior and Sleep Pattern a Concern in a 10-Year Old Dog?


Dear VetBabble: Concerns Regarding Changed Behavior and Sleep Pattern in an Older Dog


One of our concerned pet parents recently reached out to VetBabble with the following query:
“My 10-year-old Chow has been more restless than usual and appears to be following me around more. His sleep pattern has also shifted in the past few days despite all routines at home remaining unaltered. Could he be trying to tell me there is something amiss? What could be the potential reasons?”

It’s completely normal to be worried when our furry friends exhibit unexpected behavior, and it’s always best to prioritize health checks. Let’s aim to generalize this concern, offering insights that could be useful to more pet owners. Here are the three aspects that need to be examined: the impact of aging, potential health issues, and behavioral changes.

Impact of Aging on Pets and Behavioral Changes

Just like humans, pets can experience changes in behavior as they age. The change in sleep pattern seen in your Chow could be akin to an elderly person developing insomnia or other sleep-related disorders. Sometimes, such phenomena could be attributed to being tired or lethargic. To understand this better, read our article on ‘Is My Puppy Tired or Lethargic?‘. While the title mentions puppies, the concepts discussed would be equally applicable to older dogs.

In addition to changes in sleep patterns, older pets may also tend to cling more to their humans. This could explain why your Chow seems to be following you around more than usual.

Health Issues That Should be Considered

A change in a pet’s behavior, particularly when it involves restlessness or altered sleep patterns, can be a potential sign of health issues. Cognitive dysfunction syndrome, a condition similar to dementia in humans, often leads to dramatic changes in a pet’s behavior. More serious medical conditions such as brain tumors can also lead to unusual behaviors.

However, this does not imply your pet definitely has a severe illness. It’s important to visit your local veterinarian for regular health check-ups. They can conduct some blood work and x-rays to help identify if there is an underlying issue. You can discover more about what to expect in our piece on ‘Regular Health Checks for Dogs‘ to better understand how these checks can ensure the well-being of your furry friend.

Your vet will be able to rule out serious conditions like seizures, which can sometimes be mistaken for restlessness or behavioral changes. Learn more about ‘Seizures in Dogs‘ to gain knowledge about such conditions.

Addressing Behavioral Concerns: Separation and Anxiety

While health conditions should not be ruled out, behavior changes in pets could also be a sign of anxiety and insecurities. A common manifestation of such emotions is separation anxiety, a condition where dogs experience extreme anxiety when left alone. They might follow their owners around the house and refuse to settle.

Changes in a pet’s environment or routine could lead to the development of such anxiety-related issues. Look into our article ‘Separation Anxiety: When Your Dog Can’t Be Alone‘ to gain insights into this condition. Though you mentioned that routines at your home have remained unchanged, consider any subtle shifts that your pet may be more attuned to.

Keeping a close eye on your pet’s behaviour, conducting regular vet check-ups, and understanding their emotional needs will allow you to ensure their physical and emotional well-being. Your concern is apparent, and it is clear that your beloved Chow is in caring hands!

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