Understanding and Addressing Common Health Issues in Senior Golden Retrievers

Suzie Cyrenne
Authored by Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie is a Certified Homeopath and Co-Founder of Zumalka
, specializing in natural and holistic remedies for pets.
- Oct 11, 2023

It's not uncommon for Golden Retrievers to become more vulnerable to health issues when they reach their senior years. Knowing how to properly deal with these problems is crucial when it comes to helping give your aging pooch a long and healthy life.

Whether you're a first-time dog parent or perhaps a veteran pooch mom or dad, we've put together a comprehensive blog post that will help improve your knowledge on understanding and addressing the common health issues that aging Golden Retrievers may be prone to.

We will also walk you through some bits and pieces about senior Golden Retriever health and wellness that you're going to find interesting. Make sure you follow along to find out more. Why don't we start our discussion by having a quick overview of why aging Golden Retrievers are more vulnerable to health issues?


An Aging Golden Retriever is Going to Be Prone to Health Problems

Senior Golden Retriever playing at the beach

Akin to all dog breeds, it's not uncommon that a Golden Retriever's health will go through a decline when he reaches his senior years. Even the most popular dog breeds experience this issue as well! However, these health problems in aging Golden Retrievers do not just happen without a reason.

There are actually key factors that set off these problems. Below you will find such factors why your much older pooch is much more prone to health and wellness issues compared to Golden Retriever puppies and juveniles of the breed:


Your pet's body is going through a lot of changes.

While the Golden Retriever breed is a generally hardy one, your dog's body will undergo many changes as the years go by. One of the most prominent physiological changes that your pooch will experience is a much slower cell healing and rejuvenation rate.

Compared to when your furry friend was much younger, his body needs more time to get back to ideal condition. We'd just like to reiterate that although Golden Retrievers are typically healthy dogs, the various changes that their bodies are going through during their senior years will have an impact on their wellness along the way.


His overall immune system health is weakening.

Senior Golden Retriever taking outdoor rest

Your aging pet's immune system is his natural first line of defense against illnesses like skin sores, ear infections and conjunctivitis that can affect your dog's eye. These purebred dogs start out with a very robust overall immune system, but the same tends to diminish as they get older.

This is the reason why a senior dog is much more inclined to catch illnesses that a Golden Retriever puppy or juvenile can easily shake off. Examples of these include allergy symptoms that usually accompany skin conditions.

However, pet parents should not immediately resort to conventional means like anti-inflammatory medications since there are several premium and natural treatment options that you can go for. We'll expound on this in just a bit.


Your aging dog's organs are not functioning like they should.

Senior Golden Retriever taking a rest

Like other dog breeds, most Golden Retrievers experience a decline in organ function when they become senior canine citizens. These health conditions commonly affect the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs, among other organs.

This is the biggest reason why aging Golden Retrievers require a bit of help when it comes to keeping their vital organs in tiptop shape. This can be achieved by providing an age-specific diet regimen, premium natural supplements, sufficient rest as well and an appropriate workout routine.


His body is experiencing loads of wear and tear.

As we've emphasized earlier, the bodies of senior Golden Retrievers are going through a lot of changes. One of the most prominent of these changes is how their joints and bones tend to become weaker over time, making them highly prone to joint diseases like osteoarthritis (OA) and arthritis.

OA and arthritis affect Golden Retrievers by making the joints (like the hip joint) rub against the bones, making movement difficult. In very severe cases, these health issues may even make standing up extremely painful for some dogs! This is one reason why maintaining a healthy weight in senior Goldies is a must since it can aggravate the problem.


Your senior Golden Retriever may be genetically predisposed to certain illnesses and diseases.

Senior Golden Retriever playing with water

Your aging Golden Retriever belongs to a dog breed that can be highly prone to specific health concerns like frequent ear infections, hip and elbow dysplasia, diabetes, inflammatory bowel syndrome, hypothyroidism, and even certain types of cancers like osteosarcoma, mast cell tumor, and lymphoma.

We'd just like to highlight hip and elbow dysplasia as key inherited diseases since these problems can evade early detection and will get into the picture when you least expect them. Elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia are rather common among large breeds, too.

Always keep in mind that it is extremely important that you choose a reputable breeder when getting a Golden Retriever to keep clear of these breed-specific health concerns. Reputable breeders ensure that they are breeding dogs the right way. Responsible breeders don't just do it to sell as many dogs as possible.


His nutritional requirements become more demanding.

In relation to the physiological changes that we told you about, regular diet affects Golden Retrievers in a very significant way. It can go either way as well. Providing a diet regimen that suits your senior dog's needs will help him stay in tiptop shape.

On the other hand, giving him the wrong one can lead to issues like skin problems, hair loss through excessive shedding as well as periodontal disease, just to name a few. It is important to remember that senior Golden Retriever health problems can be prevented with a proper diet that's loaded with the right nutrition for much older dogs.


Signs of Senior Golden Retriever Health Problems You Should Know

Senior Golden Retriever showing signs of sickness

Most common Golden Retriever health drawbacks are indicated by sudden changes in your pet's behavior, mood, movement, and routine. For this part of our discussion, we will walk you through the notable (yet sometimes overlooked) signs of Golden Retriever health problems during their senior years:


Sudden limping and difficulty in movement

Akin to other breeds, aging Golden Retrievers tend to manifest joint and bone issues sooner or later. Hip dysplasia and arthritis are key problems affecting aging Golden Retriever wellness that you should take note of.

Perhaps the most prevalent form of joint disease in senior Goldies is arthritis. This occurs when the bones continuously rub against the joints either due to very low levels of synovial fluid or when the surface of the former loses its smoothness due to advanced age.

Moreover, hip dysplasia occurs when the hip joint develops abnormally. It may be too small or too large to fit the joint socket properly. Besides sudden limping, hip dysplasia is also characterized by an odd "hopping" gait and noticeable lameness in the hindquarters.


Bad breath and bleeding gums

Senior Golden Retriever playing in the backyard

Another common senior Golden Retriever health issue is dental disease. This is the time when problems like tooth decay and gum disease get in the picture. The most prominent sign that your much older dog is suffering from these wellness problems is bad breath, which is set off by the presence of bad bacteria in and around the mouth.

Apart from causing a lot of pain and discomfort, tooth decay and gum disease can also trigger bleeding, swelling, the development of sores, abscesses as well as bone loss in extreme cases. Make sure you deal with these problems immediately since these bad bacteria can possibly make their way inside the blood vessels and affect vital organs like the heart and lungs.


Excessive thirst and urination

Regardless of age, Golden Retrievers love the water and can't seem to get enough of it. Literally. However, if you notice that your much older pooch is drinking a lot more water than usual, chances are he could be suffering from diabetes, liver disease, or a kidney problem.

Additionally, these health issues are also characterized by excessive urination, which can also have a strange fruity or sweet odor to it. Aging Golden Retrievers with diabetes can be also more prone to canine urinary tract infections compared to their younger counterparts.


Squinting and bumping into things

Senior Golden Retriever resting on the sand

One more common Golden Retriever health issue is progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which affects the photoreceptor cells in the eyes. What's really alarming about PRA is that it doesn't cause any pain or discomfort at all, making it rather tricky to spot during its early stages.

Most aging Golden Retrievers that have PRA tend to show partial blindness, particularly during nighttime or in places where there is minimal lighting. If you observe your pooch squinting most of the time or suddenly bumping into things, it's possible that he is suffering from this problem.


Erratic sleep pattern and confusion

Much older Golden Retrievers are very much at risk of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) or dog dementia. The early signs of this health issue include seemingly becoming unfamiliar with his immediate environment and losing interest in his favorite activities. Frequent disrupted sleep patterns can also be a sign of CCD. Unfortunately, there is still no known cure for this health problem.


Unexpected weight gain or weight loss

Senior Golden Retriever on a break

If you observe your aging pooch gaining or losing weight all of a sudden, it could be that he is suffering from diabetes. Besides restricting the amount of nutrients that he gets from food, the lack of insulin also forces your pet's body to use muscle and fat for energy instead of glucose.

Diabetes is known to interfere with ideal blood flow and may result in the development of cataracts and weakness in the hind legs. Moreover, another possible culprit is an issue with your dog's thyroid hormones.


Difficulty breathing and moodiness

Golden Retrievers are known for their gentleness and impressive temperament. This makes them very good candidates for therapy dogs! However, if you observe that your much older pooch suddenly becomes aggressive, he could be afflicted with a disease or illness.


Top Tips on How to Prevent Health Issues in Much Older Golden Retrievers (Like Skin and Ear Infections)

Senior Golden Retriever on a hike

Although aging Golden Retrievers are more prone to health issues, there are also ways that you can help your pet keep clear of them. How about we give you a rundown of the simple and practical ways you can pull this off?


#1. Regular vet visits are a must.

Your senior Golden Retriever requires regular trips to the vet. This is to spot signs of disease and illness during their early stages. A vet visit every six (6) months is recommended. You can also schedule an online homeopathic consultation as an alternative approach.


#2. Give your aging Golden Retriever the proper diet he really needs.

Bowl of dog food

What aging Golden Retrievers eat on a regular basis can have a very big impact on their overall wellness. Making it a point to give your pet lots of protein, good fat and foods rich in vitamins and minerals can do wonders for his health.


#3. Regular physical exercise and mental stimulation are essential.

Sure aging Golden Retrievers are not as nimble and fast compared to their younger counterparts, but they still need a lot of physical and mental exercise to stay healthy. Go for low-impact workouts like brisk walks and swimming. Mental stimulation through the use of puzzle toys is also highly recommended.


#4. Proper grooming should be on your checklist.

Set of toiletries

Believe it or not, your senior Golden Retriever's coat can be a source of bacteria and fungi that can cause skin conditions. Their thick coats can also harbor parasites that can lead to ear infections. Having proper (and regular) grooming on your checklist helps keep these problems in check.


#5. Give your senior Golden Retriever the appropriate joint support.

Removing skin from Salmon

Aging Golden Retrievers are highly at risk of joint problems as they grow older. One no-fuss strategy you can go for is including oily fish that are abundant in Omega-3 fatty acids in his regular diet. Examples of these include tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, and salmon. Make sure you only serve them cooked with all the bones removed.


#6. Regularly examine your aging pet for indicators of possible health issues.

If your pet is anything like most aging Golden Retrievers, chances are he'll try to hide any signs of disease and illness for as long as possible. Remember to regularly examine your pooch for any lumps, sores, inflammation and similar issues. You can do this during grooming or when you're having a bonding session. Pro-tip: if senior Golden Retrievers shed more than usual, it may be a sign that something is wrong.


Properly Supporting Common Golden Retriever Health Issues

Senior Golden Retriever bonding with his furparents

Now we've got that covered, here are a few pointers on how to properly give support when you notice that your aging Golden Retriever is feeling under the weather. It is important to take note that health problems can significantly affect your pet's quality of life if not dealt with the right way.


Deal with health problems as soon as possible.

Never take any symptoms of illness or disease for granted. When you observe any sudden changes in your pet's appearance, mood, routine, or behavior, try to assess the issue immediately. If it's something that you can personally take care of, by all means, go ahead. Seek professional help if otherwise.


Don't hesitate to get in touch with a vet or pet wellness expert.

senior Golden Retriever out for a walk

In relation to the previous entry, there will be health issues that will already need the assistance of a professional. Make sure you reach out to your vet or a pet homeopathy expert to help you deal with the problem. Always remember that early detection of disease and illness in senior Golden Retrievers can prevent them from getting more serious sooner or later.


Provide lots of emotional support.

Even at their advanced age, senior Golden Retrievers need lots of cuddling, hugging and similar forms of bonding. This helps reduce the levels of oxytocin, a stress hormone, in your pet's body. Besides improving sleep, this strategy can also curb the possibility of the onset of anxiety in dogs. Proper socialization with other pets and humans can be also one form of emotional support.


Always prioritize your pet's comfort and safety.

Senior Golden Retriever getting pets

When it comes to health issues in senior Golden Retrievers, it is important that you have a premium natural product like IMMUNOPET in your home pet care checklist. Besides containing many natural ingredients that support the immune system, IMMUNOPET also enables an increase in hemoglobin levels, while acting as a purifier of blood and lymph nodes.


About the author

Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie Cyrenne


Suzie Cyrenne has dedicated more than 20 years of her life in making and improving natural animal health solutions in the global setting.

Being the co-founder of Zumalka, Suzie is a forerunner in enhancing the lives of pets through natural and homeopathic options using the knowledge she has gained from the Classical Homeopathy School in Quebec.

Through the guidance of her mother-in-law and fellow natural health expert, Denyse Lessard, Suzie constantly devotes herself to create premium pet products that are aimed at dealing with the root causes of wellness problems and not just their symptoms.

Besides immersing herself in books, personal development and visiting new places, Suzie also enjoys keeping herself in tiptop shape by snowboarding and taking daily hikes with her husband and Zumalka co-founder, Matt Lessard, and their Golden-Doodle, Westin.

Find out more about Suzie when you click HERE.


  • Zumalka December 15, 2023 at 4:30 pm

    We’re glad you like it !

  • Thedogsale December 15, 2023 at 4:28 pm

    Thank you for shedding light on the health concerns faced by senior Golden Retrievers. This comprehensive guide provides valuable insights and tips to ensure our furry companions live their golden years to the fullest. It’s heartwarming to see such dedication to our beloved pets’ well-being. Great job

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