At Riverside Veterinary Hospital we recommend semi-annual visits for our senior patients instead of annual visits so signs of illness or other problems can be detected early and treated. During a senior wellness visit we will perform an in-depth physical exam, along with a thorough history-taking. We will also recommend performing senior labwork at least once yearly; Labwork includes a chemistry panel, a complete blood cell count (CBC), a urinalysis, a thyroid check (in cats) and in many cases, blood pressure measurement.
When does a pet becomes a “senior” dog or cat?
Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not age at a rate of 7 human years for each year in dog years. Larger/giant breed dogs tend to have shorter life spans compared to smaller breeds and are often considered senior when they are 5 to 6 years of age; Medium-large breed dogs are considered seniors at 7 years age, while smaller/toy breed dogs are considered senior at around 1o years of age.
On the other hand, cats are considered seniors at around 8-10 years of age. Cats today have a life expectancy of approximately 20 years.
Which diseases are common in senior pets?
Although we don’t consider age a disease, senior pets may develop age-related diseases. Older pets are more more likely to develop heart, kidney and liver disease, cancer, arthritis, and senility (cognitive dysfunction). In cats, the two most common senior diseases are hyperthyroidism and kidney disease.
What are some of the common signs you may see in your aging pet?
- Some loss in hearing and vision
- Development of cataracts
- Changes in activity (avoiding or decrease in active playing, running, or jumping)
- Changes in behavior:
– easily disturbed by loud sounds
– unusually aggressive behavior
– increased barking/meowing
– anxiety or nervousness
– confused or disoriented behavior
– increased wandering
– house soiling (“accidents”)
– changes in sleep patterns
– less interest in playing
– repeating the same
– not responding to voice commands
– more grouchy or irritable than usual
- Change in weight – especially any sudden changes
Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns regarding your senior pet, and make an appointment to have him/her seen.