You have probably heard the statistics that dogs and cats age seven years for each human year, however, the conventional wisdom that one dog/cat year equals seven human years is an oversimplified view of how old your pet is in human years. While there is no exact consensus on precisely how many years our pets age compared to our own, it is clear they age much faster than we do.
Preventative care is necessary to keep your pet comfortable and healthy. NSVH recommends twice yearly senior exams for cats greater than nine years and dogs greater than seven years. We modify these recommendations based on the individual patient, and for giant breeds we often consider them seniors over the age of six. Bloodwork, blood pressure check, fecal, and urinalysis provide measurements that will help guide us to the best preventative care your senior pet deserves. With regular lab work many diseases can be caught early and with timely treatment you will enjoy more time with your beloved pet.
Factors influencing longevity:
- Wellness Care
Pet are very adept at hiding health issues and often diagnosis and treatment is delayed. As with our own aging immune system, pets too become more susceptible to disease and illness. As pet owners, we must keep a close eye on our senior pets so that we can be diligent in providing the best environment and care during their senior years.
Common issues of aging pets:
- Vision problems
- Kidney disease
- Intestinal problems
- Liver disease
- Cognitive disorders
- Behavior changes
- Physical changes
As a pet parent, there are many things at home you can do to assist in keeping them active and comfortable. As our pets become less active, engaging in physical activity will aid in maintaining healthy muscles and joints. You will need to adjust the duration and intensity of your activities to best suit your pet. Even senior pets like toys. By ensuring your pet has toys you are not only providing physical activity but keeping their mind engaged.
Pet owners may find special accommodations are necessary and will need to be modified over time. Seniors may require ramps to get in and out of vehicles, perhaps to get upstairs or on the bed. Finding a suitable location for their bed, that is free from drafts and is very cozy, will be most comfortable.
It’s very important that seniors receive quality nutritional diets and plenty of fresh water. Your veterinarian can recommend a proper diet best suited for your pet and provide a target weight that is ideal. The ability to eat comfortably, free of pain, is important to ensure your pet is getting proper nutrition.
Another area of importance is tracking their dental care. Although your veterinarian will peek inside your pet’s mouth at your twice yearly senior exams and make any necessary recommendations, it is important as a pet owner to keep watch for any symptoms relating to dental disease. When pet’s mouths are full of bacteria, the bacteria will travel through their blood stream which can cause serious issues with their organs. Sadly, pets can experience kidney infections, have lung disease, have liver disease, and even impact their heart valves. It’s more than bad breath! See our Dentistry section for more information.
NSVH will prescribe necessary medications to relieve pain and inflammation that your pet requires. Additionally, NSVH offers many therapeutic options including physical rehabilitation, massage, and hydrotherapy. See our Physical Rehabilitation section to see the variety of modalities available.
In partnership with you, we want to do everything possible in working toward the healthiest happiest life your pet deserves.