Qualifying for “senior” status varies in canine and feline companions. Smaller breeds of dogs tend to live longer than larger breeds, so they may reach their geriatric stage around 10 to 13 years of age, and cats tend to live longer still. Some giant breeds may classify as senior status as young as five. Your veterinarian can help you determine what stage of life your pet is in.
No matter when your animal housemate reaches old age, it is estimated that 30% of geriatric patients have a hidden disease such as arthritis, dental disease, diabetes/Cushing’s disease, cancer, cardiac disease, or liver or kidney failure. Pleasant Plains Animal Hospital offers a practical approach to supporting the health and vigor of your mature pet that includes the following:
- Veterinary exams at least two times a year
- Regular oral exams and dental cleanings
- Senior lab work, including blood screening, urinalysis, and parasite testing
- Hearing and eye exams
- Diet and nutrition counseling
- Exercise plan
How can I tell if my pet is getting old?
Our pets are no different than us when it comes to aging. They start to slow down and you may notice some loss of mental or sensory acuity. Sight, hearing, taste, and smell may also start to diminish. Senior pets are also at higher risk for age-related illnesses or diseases. That is why it is so important to be aware of subtle signs such as:
- Vision changes
- Decreased appetite
- Increased thirst
- Urinary incontinence
Since early detection of illness and disease is critical, your veterinarian may want to run more diagnostics, such as lab, blood, and imaging tests. If you have questions about any of the recommended tests, ask your veterinarian. You might also find this HealthyPet article When to Say Yes to a Diagnostic Test helpful.