Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, our pets can now live longer and healthier lives than ever before. Dogs and cats are considered “geriatric” or “senior” when they reach about 7 years old.
Is old age considered a disease?
Old age is not a disease, it’s a new reality. Your pet will undergo many changes as they age: greying fur, declining vision and hearing, altered appetite, increased need for sleep, etc. It’s important to accept and adapt to these shifts.
What are the most common health problems for senior animals?
Senior cats and dogs can suffer from osteoarthritis, diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, periodontal disease, cataracts, cancer and obesity. Cats sometimes experience hyperthyroidism, while dogs may develop hypothyroidism. Older dogs may also experience cognitive dysfunction (dementia).
How often should I bring my senior pet to the vet?
As your pet ages, their body changes more quickly and the annual exam becomes even more important. Their organs, bones and joints age much faster than ours do.
It’s best to bring your pet in for a checkup twice a year (every 6 months). On top of the comprehensive exam, we will also sometimes run additional tests, like blood work, urine analyses, X-rays or ultrasounds to check the health of your pet’s internal organs. These tests help us get a complete picture of your pet’s health and to intervene quickly if necessary. Your day-to-day observations on your pet’s diet, weight, mobility and digestion are also very useful for proper preventative care.
Is exercise still important for my senior animal?
Physical activity is still an absolute must, but you need to keep in mind your pet’s joints, which no longer have the endurance they once did. Adapt their exercise routine, avoid jumping, come up with gentler games and don’t take them on as many long walks.
I’ve heard that it can be a good idea to switch up my pet’s diet. Is this true?
Absolutely. Your animal’s digestive and energy needs will change as they get older and move less. They will need different vitamins and nutrients to have a fully balanced diet that helps prevent many different types of diseases. We are happy to advise you on the right diet for your pet’s age and lifestyle.