We consider pets that are
SEVEN YEARS OLD
or older to be senior-aged pets. At this stage in their lives, dogs and cats are more susceptible to contracting health issues. Early detection can help prevent disease and minimize suffering of an older pet.
Dog Years VS Human Years
7 dog years = 44 – 56 years
10 dog years = 56 – 78 years
15 dog years = 76 – 115 years
20 dog years = 96 – 120 years
Cat Years VS Human Years
7 cat years = 54 years
10 cat years = 63 years
15 cat years = 78 years
20 cat years = 97 years
Getting Older Means Going to the Vet More Often
If you haven’t already, soon you may begin to notice some tell tale signs that your pet is entering his senior years. Maybe your dog takes longer to fetch a favorite ball. Maybe your pet has stopped greeting you at the door . . . or it takes longer to get there. Maybe your pet is “forgetting house training”. Perhaps your pet is gaining weight, has poor skin and coat condition or is sleeping more than usual. While these things may seem like “old age” to you, the fact is that any or all of these signs might be an indication that your senior pet has a medical problem that needs attention.
While annual check-ups are important for pets of all ages, making more frequent vet visits is especially important for mature pets. We consider pets that are seven years old and older to be senior-aged pets. At this stage in their lives, dogs and cats are more susceptible to contracting health issues, including the following:
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Certain types of cancer
Senior Health Care Recommendations
Twice yearly thorough physical exams
This is is excellent advice for our senior pets. Our pet’s aging process is greatly accelerated compared to humans, so early identification of disease and early medical intervention may be extremely beneficial to the health and longevity of your cherished pet.
Complete Blood Count (CBC), Blood Chemistry Profiles and Electrolytes
Although the thorough physical exam is essential, it cannot evaluate the performance of your pet’s organs. Significant destruction of the kidneys and liver and other organs may not be detectable without blood tests.
Helps asses the overall health of your pet’s urinary tract including the kidneys and bladder. Also checks for health indicators like glucose, hydration status, urinary tract infections.
Many body systems (spleen, lungs, prostate, gastrointestinal tract, neurologic system) produce no enzymes that can be measured in blood. Thus, diagnostic imaging should be considered, even if bloodwork is normal.
High blood pressure in pets can lead to kidney problems, heart disease, blindness, and other complications.
glaucoma testing measures the pressure in each eye quickly. Undetected glaucoma leads to irreversible blindness.
is a recording of the electrical avtivity of the heart, detecting rate and rythm abnormalities in the heartbeat.
- Monitor your pet’s weight: Rapid weight loss or gain may indicate significant disease. Hyperthyroidism (cats), diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer will usually result in rapid weight loss. Weight gain is frequently seen in any disease that decreases your pet’s activity level such as arthritis and hypothyroidism or it may indicate an inappropriate diet.
- Senior health care diets: Dietary needs mirror the changes occurring in the body, metabolism slows and fewer calories are required. Just as we need to alter our diet, as we grow older, aging pets should avoid excess weight gain. A properly formulated diet combined with a moderate exercise program is powerful preventive medicine for your senior dogs and cats.
- Arthritis: General slowing-down and aging in pets may actually indicate pain. Evaluating the level of pain and medication can make a great difference in the quality of life.
- Dental Care: Gingivitis can be painful and can progress to periodontal disease, tooth abscesses, and tooth loss. Bad breath can be a sign of periodontal disease. Bacteria from periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream through bleeding and inflamed gums which can affect organs causing further problems.
- Cognitive Dysfunction: Cognitive decline (aka dementia) increases with advanced age. Indicators include loss of house training, increased anxiety, disorientation, sleep and activity changes, shifts in levels of aggression, and a general change in alertness.