By Elva Ma, DVM
This is the first in a series of regular blog posts by the doctors of Wellesley Animal Hospital. I'll start off with a topic near and dear to my heart. As the owner of a 17-year-old feline, and as the health provider for hundreds of senior pets, I've seen firsthand the challenges, and also the great joys that come with owning a senior companion. With great advances in medicine and nutrition, pets are living longer lives now than ever before, and with that, we are seeing more age-related health issues as well.
We classify a senior pet as any cat or small dog over the age of 7, and large breed dogs over the age of 5-6. I like to refer to this chart which hangs in our exam room, and indicates the human age equivalent by the size of the animal:
Senior pets can develop many of the same health problems as older humans, including arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, and even senility. Elderly pets tend to feel the effects of aging faster than their younger counterparts, which makes the regular checkup with a veterinarian so important. A senior checkup is similar to one for younger pets, with the addition of possible blood work or urine tests, and specific checks for certain senior pet diseases as listed earlier. We recommend that senior pets receive twice-yearly examinations so signs of chronic illness can be detected and treated early.
Common warning signs of illness in an older pet are varied, and may include:
These signs are valuable to watch for at home and can help to pinpoint a diagnosis when discussing your pet's health concerns with the vet.
For the otherwise healthy, but older pet, there are many small changes that we can make at home to help maintain their quality of life, such as:
Life with an older pet can be an extremely rewarding experience. With close observation at home and regular veterinary checkups, it is possible to provide our pets with an excellent quality of life well into their golden years!
We use 3 different types of cookies on our website. You can say which ones you're happy for us to use below.
These cookies do things like keep the website secure. They always need to be on.