There is something special about senior pets. What’s not to love about the greying muzzle, or their little quirks and special routines? Due to improved veterinary care, our pets are living well into their senior years.
When is a pet considered a senior? Generally, any pet over the age of 7 has entered their golden years. Smaller breeds will live longer than the giant breeds. Some small breeds will be considered “senior” at 10-13 years, while a Great Dane is collecting their pension at the age of 5. Cats may outlive us all, and it’s not unusual to see 18, 19, even 20-year-old feline friends. Determining the age of a pet is not as simple as one human year = x pet years. The age of a pet is ultimately very individual, and your vet can help you determine what stage of life your friend is entering.
Like us, as our pets grow older, they too can experience age-related issues. Pets age faster than us, so major health changes can happen quickly. Old age is not a disease itself, but some diseases can be age-related. Such issues such as weight gain or loss (especially in our feline friends), new lumps or bumps, vision and hearing problems, arthritis or behavioural changes can happen with our older pets. Such changes as sleep/wake cycle disruption, house soiling, altered interactions with family members, reduced self-hygiene and disorientation are all things that should be discussed with your vet.
Our senior pets require increased attention so we recommend more frequent visits to the vet; at least every 6 months or more frequently if they are being treated for an issue. During a physical exam with your vet, the focus is on optimal and individualized care to enhance the wellbeing of our seniors, managing any pain or stress and early detection of disease. Most diseases and conditions are manageable with appropriate care.
Throughout the physical exam, ideal diet and nutrition will be discussed, as this is often the first line of defence for a healthy senior. Of course, a diet will be recommended that is tailored to your pet’s needs. Topics also on maintaining mobility, mental health and environmental modifications will be considered.
It is also recommended to run some blood work, as this will establish a baseline for future comparison and detect silent abnormalities, allowing therapeutic intervention when it will have the most benefit.
We love our senior pets! We have spent so many years together, some since they were puppy and kittens. They have become an integral part of the family. They have been there for us through so much, and now it’s time for us to be there for them through their golden years. They deserve the best care possible to keep them happy and healthy. Call your vet today to discuss how to ensure your pet’s senior years are the happiest and healthiest possible.
If you have any questions, give us a call at 403.948.2733.
Written by: Claire Forbes, Registered Veterinary Technician