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Published: Oct 19, 2011

As pets age, their owners will likely notice a gradual change in their behavior. Although this is common for dogs, significant changes should always be addressed at a veterinarian health clinic to make sure the sudden mood swings are not due to an underlying medical problem, VCA Animal Hospitals reports.

Dogs can also become more susceptible to cognitive decline and degenerative diseases with age, both of which can cause behavioral changes. An owner can find out if their dog is suffering from one of these conditions by having blood tests and a urinalysis performed. These can help determine if a dog has any problems with its organs that may require medication or surgery.

Once serious conditions are ruled out, owners may want to assess their current lifestyle to see if anything has recently changed that may be upsetting their senior dog. According to VCA, older animals can become aggressive or act differently if there have been any changes in routine or home environment. Such changes can include a child going to college, or someone in the home working a different shift than usual.

If a change in lifestyle is the catalyst, owners can help by spending more quality time with their dog. suggests setting aside an hour or so each day that is dedicated to being with the dog. Giving it a massage, taking it for a walk or allowing it on the couch during this time are ways to ease its anxiety.