So, when is a pet considered a “senior”? In general, cats live longer than dogs, and small breeds of dogs live longer than large breeds. Beyond that, the life span will vary with each individual, and your veterinarian will be able to help you determine what stage of life your furry friend is in.
As with elderly people, there can be huge differences in the aging process among individual dogs. But a good benchmark is that a 7- to 9-year-old dog, depending on size and individual variation, is roughly equivalent to a 45- to 75-year-old person.
In most cases, cats can be considered senior when they are between seven and ten years old. According to the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the term “senior” can describe an aging pet, but the number of years considered to be “senior” varies.
We recommend that all adult pets receive annual examinations, but senior pets may need a thorough physical examination more than just once a year. Along with examining the body systems, we will assess your pet’s body condition and make dietary and exercise recommendations to help your pet maintain its ideal body weight. In addition, we will carefully assess the health of your pet’s teeth and gums, as dental disease can be a significant problem for senior pets.
We may recommend blood work (CBC, chemistry profile and thyroid function tests) and urinalysis. These tests will enable us to detect changes that indicate a disease is present and may allow us to slow or stop its progression. If necessary, we may recommend other diagnostics (ultrasound or radiology) to help improve your pet’s health as well.
You should observe your pet and look for changes that may indicate an underlying disease:
Change in appetite or weight loss/gain
Diarrhea or constipation
Urination or defecation in the house
Increased urine frequency, volume, straining etc.
Difficulty rising, walking or climbing stairs
Confusion, disorientation, anxiety or changes in sleep patterns
New lumps or bumps
It is common to assume these signs are a normal part of the aging process; however, they may indicate underlying disease process. If you notice any of these signs, it may be time to make an appointment and have your pet evaluated.
At Arbor Hills Veterinary Centre, we can provide the care and understanding that you and your aging pet need. We will take the time to assess your pet’s health concerns and discuss with you the management of your pet’s unique and changing needs. Call us today for your pet’s needs.