Healthy Senior Pets

As we get older, what are the first things our doctors recommend to help maintain our health? You’re right!! Regular comprehensive physical exams and lab work. As your pet gets older, the same applies to them. The average dog or cat enters the geriatric years between 6 and 10 years of age. Aging pets are prone to many of the same ailments older humans experience such as diabetes, renal disease, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, depression, hearing loss, decreased vision, and difficulty getting around.

You may also notice weight gain or loss, bad breath, a change in eating habits and water consumption, shaking or shivering, disorientation, decreased activity, inappropriate urination, and decreased interest in you or their environment. However, even if your pet isn’t behaving differently, age brings changes in the functioning of his/her internal organs. Clinical signs often do not develop until late in the disease process. Just as in human medicine, many diseases can be uncovered early in their development by routine blood screening of pets that ‘appear’ normal.

Although there is no magic cure for old age, we can certainly make sure our older pets are comfortable and with us for as long as possible.  Some problems of aging must simply be accepted, but when diagnosed early, others can be slowed and even reversed with proper care.  According to a geriatric study at a veterinary hospital in Virginia, the average life span of animals before implementing a geriatric program was 10 for dogs and 7 years for cats.  The ages after starting the program are now 15 years for dogs and 16 years for cats.

At what age is my pet considered a ‘Senior’?
The aging process varies with breed and lifestyle.

Small dogs (< 20 lbs.) : 7 – 13 yrs

Medium dogs (21-50 lbs) : 7 – 11 yrs

Large dogs (51-90 lbs) : 6 – 9 yrs

Giant dogs (over 90 lbs) : 5 – 9 yrs

Cats (most breeds) : 8 – 10 yrs

Early testing will help establish healthy baseline values.  As these tests are run during regular geriatric exams, results can be compared to previous baseline values.  While mild increases in certain values may be of no consequence, repeated elevations may indicate a trend and a potential problem.  As you can see, regular exams and blood tests are just as important for your pet as they are for you.  Since our pets cannot ‘tell’ us how they feel, we must use diagnostic tools to gather information.

Animal Care Hospital has developed a geriatric program to help keep your senior pet healthy, happy, and feeling well. We understand how important your older pets are to you and we are determined to provide the highest quality Veterinarian care available. Although these tests are designed to diagnose abnormalities, we remain committed to the prevention of disease and not only to the treatment after problems occur.

Everyday, people are made aware of research in humans that show how preventive medicine can preserve life and increase longevity. We want our patients to be able to experience the same benefits of preventive medicine and geriatric care as their human counterparts. Together we can make sure your pets enjoy their later years in a way never before possible.

If you have any questions concerning your senior pet or these tests, please call 731-285-6270 today for an appointment