Companion cats and dogs are living far longer lives than in the past, thanks to improved dietary options and better veterinary care. So today, our Jackson vets will discuss how you can care for your senior dog or cat.
When is a pet considered 'old?'
When a dog reaches the age of 7 or 8, depending on the breed and size, it is considered old. It is important to note, however, that individual dogs may age differently due to factors such as genetics, overall health, and lifestyle.
A cat is generally considered old when it reaches around 10 to 12 years of age. However, much like dogs, it's important to note that the aging process can vary depending on various factors such as breed, overall health, and lifestyle.
What are some age-related conditions that can effect senior pets?
Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
Cancer is thought to kill approximately half of all pets in the United States. As a result, it is critical for your senior pet to have routine wellness exams as they age.
Even if your geriatric pet appears healthy, bringing them in for routine checkups allows your veterinarian to look for early signs of cancer and other diseases that respond better to treatment if caught early.
Blindness & Hearing Loss
Degeneration of the eyes and ears in older pets can result in varying degrees of deafness and blindness, though this is more common in dogs than in cats.
When these conditions are caused by aging, they may appear gradually, allowing geriatric pets to adjust their behavior and making it difficult for pet owners to detect.
Although dogs and cats can develop diabetes at any age, the majority of dogs are diagnosed between the ages of 7 and 10 years old, and the majority of cats are over the age of 6.
Excessive thirst, increased appetite with weight loss, cloudy eyes, and chronic or recurring infections are all symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats.
Obesity increases the risk of diabetes in both cats and dogs.
Senior pets, like people, can suffer from heart disease.
Senior dogs frequently suffer from congestive heart failure, which occurs when the heart does not efficiently pump blood, causing fluid to build up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
While cats are less susceptible to heart disease than dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is fairly common. As a result of this condition, the walls of a cat's heart thicken, reducing the heart's ability to function efficiently.
Why is preventive care so important?
Preventive care is crucial for senior pets to live a healthy, happy life. It allows veterinarians to detect diseases early, preserving physical health and catching emerging issues before they escalate into long-term problems. Regular physical examinations ensure quality, long-term health for your pet.
In addition to physical examinations, preventive care for senior pets often includes routine vaccinations and screenings for common age-related conditions.
How often should a senior pet visit the vet?
Vet visits for senior pets may vary depending on their specific health conditions and needs. However, as a general rule, senior pets should visit the vet at least twice a year for regular check-ups and preventive care. These visits enable the veterinarian to monitor any age-related health issues and provide appropriate treatments or interventions as soon as possible.
What happens during a vet visit for senior pets
A senior pet wellness examination should include the following:
- Complete blood count and biochemical profile of the serum (including thyroid levels).
- Assessment of the vaccination schedule and risk factors, as well as the implementation of appropriate preventive care.
- Orthopedic examination.
- Comprehensive vision evaluation.
- Assessment of current body weight and body condition score.
- Evaluating nutrition/diet (including caloric intake).
- Discuss sleeping patterns and any changes in cognition with your family.