My Senior Dog No Longer Barks – Reasons & Solutions

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This article was updated on January 23rd, 2024

As dogs age, their behaviors often change. If your elderly dog stops barking, it’s crucial to assess the situation: while it might be simply that your dog is no longer interested in barking, it could also signal a serious health issue. In this article, our veterinarian Dr. Chyrle Bonk provides guidance on when to be concerned and the appropriate steps to take.

If your dog no longer barks, it could be simply because he/she is easy-going and no longer feels the need to bark

Before we dwelve into the details to understand why your dog is no longer barking, it is important to consider that every dog has a different personality and that different breeds have different barking habits. Some breeds such as Beagles and Fox Terriers bark a lot. Other breeds such as French bulldogs do not bark much.

Your dog simply may not want to bark anymore. If this is the case, your dog is probably not showing any other signs of discomfort or illness.

However, if your dog used to bark a lot and suddenly stops barking at an old age, it is important to find the root causes of this change. Let’s look at the 4 most likely reasons to help you understand when a medical issue might be at play.

Here are 4 medical reasons why your senior dog may have stopped barking:

1. Laryngitis

Laryngitis is a condition resulting from inflammation of the larynx or voice box. It can be caused by an infection, an irritation from dust, smoke, or foreign objects, or from overusing their bark. When a dog has laryngitis it can be painful to bark, so they often will try not to.

The most common symptoms of laryngitis include:

  • a cough is often the first noticeable symptom,
  • a hoarse or absent bark,
  • difficulty breathing,
  • possible gagging or retching,
  • instead of barking, your dog may make other noises such as whimpers or whines.

Most dogs will recover with some rest if they are able to clear the irritation, while some will need medications prescribed by a vet to get rid of the inflammation.
Learn more about Laryngitis in dogs.

“Try to remember whether your dog has barked more than usual in recent days. If your dog has barked more than usual, laryngeal inflammation or laryngitis could be preventing your dog from barking normally.”

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

Veterinarian at

2. Stress or anxiety

In many ways, dogs are like humans. In this busy world, dogs can be stressed and feel anxious due to many reasons, such as the feeling of being abandoned, a loud environment, or the presence of strangers and other animals.

Stress can lead to many abnormal changes in behavior. One of which can be acting strange or not barking. Other common signs include:

  • whining,
  • pacing or shaking,
  • hiding,
  • decreased appetite,
  • destructive behavior, and
  • excessive licking or grooming.

If your dog has stopped barking, could it be due to a change in environment or living conditions?
Learn more about stress & anxiety in senior dogs.

“If stress is the reason why your old dog no longer barks, you may try engaging your dog in different activities to relieve anxiety. Older dogs enjoy their daily routines and activities. They prefer sticking to that routine. If there is too much change or stress-inducing factors in their environment, they may get restless and change their behaviors – including barking.”

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

Veterinarian at

3. Health conditions

Health conditions can affect the larynx or voice box of your old dog. There are a few conditions in particular that might explain why your old or senior dog is no longer barking:

1) Laryngeal paralysis occurs when the muscles of the larynx lose innervation and relax, allowing the voice box to collapse inwards. As a result, its function is altered or impaired. The cords become weak or completely paralyzed.

In addition to a change or loss of bark, the most common symptoms can include any of the following:

  • noisy breathing,
  • coughing or gagging, and
  • difficulty breathing during exercise

2) Tumors that grow in the trachea or larynx of your dog could also result in your dog no longer barking. A tumor can grow slowly in the trachea or larynx, allowing a dog to still eat and drink while impacting their ability to bark. Besides a change in barking habits, the most common symptoms include:

  • a persistent cough,
  • difficulty breathing,
  • gagging,
  • bloody discharge from the nose or mouth (in some cases).

“If your dog is showing other signs of discomfort such as coughing or gagging, it is important that you see your veterinarian quickly to get your dog the help they need.”

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

Veterinarian at

4. Doggie Dementia (Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome)

Also known as doggie dementia or old dog syndrome, Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) can affect how a dog behaves, including how much they bark. Degenerative changes in the brain over time can also lead to:

If you recognize some of these symptoms, call your veterinarian: they can help a dog with this syndrome, so be sure to make an appointment if you notice these changes in your senior companion.
Learn more about doggie dementia.

When to see your vet

Of course, any time you’re concerned about any of your dog’s behavior is the perfect time to see a vet. Otherwise, definitely check in with them if your dog is showing other signs other than not barking. This may be:

  • not eating as much,
  • not wanting to exercise,
  • behavior changes such as aggression, destructive behavior, or becoming more clingy.
  • other signs of pain or illness (coughing, gagging, peeing accidents, etc)

Your veterinarian will do a thorough examination of your dog, starting from the head and ending at the tail to find any abnormality that can be causing a problem.

Your vet will ask you when you first observed the abnormal behavior and observed the changes. Therefore, you must carefully observe your pet to provide helpful information to your veterinarian.


What if my dog is barking but otherwise acting normal (no other signs of illness)?

Sometimes senior dogs may decrease their barking but not show any other signs. If this is the case, you still may consider seeing your vet if they don’t bark for longer than 48-72 hours.

As mentioned above, try to remember how much your dog barked beforehand and if they had increased that frequency in the days leading up to it. Dogs can be stoic and hide other signs, so seeing your vet can help uncover the cause of your dog not barking even if they otherwise appear normal.

How can you prevent this barking problem from happening again?

Once you have ruled out more serious issues with your veterinarian, you may wonder what you can do to help this issue from happening again. You should consider the following:

  • First of all, you must provide your dog with a high-quality diet to ensure they are getting all of the nutrients they need (see our information on nutrition for older dogs).
  • Second, you should make sure that your dog is getting regular exercise. Following a proper schedule for walks and playtime can help prevent anxiety and stress in your dog as they know what to expect and when. Exercise is also important for keeping your dog strong and healthy and preventing boredom. Read our page on The Importance Of Exercising Older Dogs.
  • Third, you must visit your vet regularly so that a thorough examination can help spot abnormalities before they become issues.


  • Dr Chyrle Bonk, Veterinarian

    Dr. Chyrle Bonk received her Master in Animal Science from the University of Idaho and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from Oregon State University in 2010. She has over 10 years of experience in small animal veterinary practice, working for a veterinary clinic in Idaho.

Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.

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