Senior Pets

Did you know that on average pet’s age five to seven times faster than humans?

Once pets are over age seven they are classified as ‘senior’. Senior pets need just a little more care compared to younger animals. There are a number of measures you can take to make sure your pet gets the most out of life. Seniors are predisposed to a number of serious diseases including cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis and heart disease.

Diet

Senior dog food is specially formulated to keep your pet happy and healthy for years to come. It contains active ingredients to slow the onset of senility. It is lower in calories to control their weight as older pets exercise less. It also has supplements to slow the onset of arthritis. You can get all of these benefits just by changing their food! Our vets will tell you which diet is best for your dog.

Exercise

As your pet gets older, they exercise less. This can sometimes be accredited to discomfort associated with arthritis or other health concerns. It is a great idea to continue slow and gentle lead walks to keep your pet mobile.

If you are able to, sometimes walking through water up to their knees, or swimming, can be beneficial to their joints and muscles. Walking through water and swimming are both low impact exercises that are gentle on joints. Remember to keep your pet under strict supervision at all times both in and around the water.

Get twice yearly health checks

Remember- dogs age up to seven times faster than we do! A twice yearly health check for a dog is like us going for a check-up every three years once we’re older. A full physical examination is performed at your pets senior health check. By detecting disease early, we are often better able to manage any ailment affecting your pet.

Get a once yearly blood test

Often we will pick up changes in the blood before your pet is showing signs of illness. If we find diseases such as early kidney or liver disease, then even simple things such as dietary changes and natural supplements can potentially add years to your pet’s life. Again, by catching disease early, treatment is often easier and more successful.

Look after their teeth

Dental disease can be common in older animals. If it is severe they often require a general anaesthetic (for a scale and polish), which is a risk in older animals. Prevention is better than cure! If your pet is starting to show signs of dental disease we will show you how to best treat and prevent it.

What is a senior pet?

It is generally believed that one year in the life of a dog or cat is equal to about seven human years. While this helps us understand that our  8 to 10 year-old pets are approaching their senior years, their lifespan actually depends on their breed and size. For example a cat or a small breed dog can live up to nearly 20 years while giant breed dogs generally tend to live 7 – 10 years.

From the age of 7 (for dogs) and 9 (for cats) a comprehensive health assessment should be undertaken at least once a year (this could occur at your pet’s annual checkup and vaccination) but preferably six monthly. It may include some further tests to identify changes before they become problems. Just as senior citizens deserve special care, so do our senior pets.

What can you do?

  • Note changes in your pet’s behaviour or appearance and tell the vet about these. Have simple medical problems, such as incessant ear scratching, treated immediately. A trip to the veterinarian can get problems under control early, before they become major problems requiring more extensive treatment.
  • Switch to a quality senior food that provides enhanced levels of key nutrients. We recommend Hills.
  • Ask your veterinarian about a dental checkup and teeth cleaning.
  • Provide moderate exercise. This will deter anxiety related behaviour problems, help with weight control, keep muscles toned and help keep your pet healthy.
  • Talk with your veterinarian if your dog or cat tires easily or has trouble breathing.
  • Groom your senior pet at least once a week. Check for lumps, sores, parasites and foul-smelling ears or discharge. Older pets may need to be bathed with medicated or moisturising shampoo.
  • Maintain a familiar routine and environment to minimise stress.
  • If your pet has not been speyed or neutered, ask your veterinarian about having this done. These procedures reduce the likelihood of mammary or prostate gland tumors among other things.

Some of the important problems that senior pets may suffer from include:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Kidney Disease
  • Dental Disease
  • Cataracts
  • Infection
  • Cancer
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Weight gain or loss

When these problems are identified early, treatment is generally much easier and your pet will be healthier and happier for longer.

Ask your veterinarian about a Senior Pet Health Examination.

What the Veterinarian can do?

At a Senior Pet Health Check you will receive a written report so that you have a record of your pet’s health status, and a list of any treatment or further tests that are required.

Your veterinarian may recommend basic blood and urine tests as a baseline for measuring future changes. Regular blood testing can help identify diseases in their earliest and most treatable stages.

If you would like to bring your pet in for a Senior Pet Health Examination, please make an appointment at a time that suits you.