Old age is not a disease, but a natural stage of life. Still, older pets need specific kinds of care to make their golden years healthy and happy. Many diagnostic tests not routinely given to younger animals are recommended for older pets to help us identify problems early and form aggressive treatment plans. For example, some older pets suffer from Chronic Kidney Failure, but diagnosed early, we can minimize the negative and maximize the positive in their life.
At what age does my pet become a senior?
Just as people do, animals age at different rates depending on a number of factors including breed, size, exercise, diet, and lifestyle. Both genetics and environment play a part. Depending upon the major factors of size and breed, dogs & cats 8 years and older are considered senior pets.
What signs should I be looking for?
Observe your pet carefully for early signs of potential health problems. These symptoms are commonly attributed to the aging process; however, they may indicate underlying age-related disease.
- Short of Breath
- Loss of house training
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Bowel habits have changed: diarrhea/constipation
- Repeated vomiting
- Increased appetite
- Decreased appetite
- Changes in behavior/activity level
- Showing signs of pain - difficulty jumping up/climbing stairs, Increased stiffness or limping
- Excessive panting
- Confusion or disorientation
- Excessive barking/meowing
- Vision/hearing changes
- Shaking head/scratching ears
- Unusual new lumps or bumps
- Change in hair, coat, skin
- Scratching, licking, chewing
- Bad breath
- Difficulty chewing
- Weight gain
- Weight loss
- Just not acting like him/herself
What are some typical senior problems and what can be done about them?
- Dental problems can be kept to a minimum with daily home care such as teeth brushing and dental chews - good dental health can increase a pets life by several years!
- Obesity and heart or kidney problems can be prevented or mitigated with proper diet (stay away from treats)
- Thyroid or adrenal gland problems can be treated with prescription drugs
- Cognitive problems can be helped by keeping your pet mentally active
- Exercise helps to reduce the speed at which a body deteriorates.
- Pain can be managed with prescription drugs
Older animals are at higher risk for all these conditions. The sooner we are aware of them, the sooner we can treat them. This is why scheduling Senior Wellness Exams is very important at this stage of life.
We are a progressive clinic using the best medicine and procedures to care for your pet. The cornerstone of our modern approach to veterinary medicine is preventive care. Proactive (not reactive) health management = preventive care = highest quality medicine. We are committed to this. Preventive care extends the length of your pet's life and increases the quality of life for both you and your pet. Senior preventive care allows us to establish a baseline and to find health abnormalities before they present clinically. By finding disease conditions early, we are able to intervene early, thus providing the best possible care and outcome.