That little kitten you brought home years ago now prefers to curl on the couch instead of climbing the curtains. Maybe your dog seems stiffer in the cold weather. Fading sight and loss of hearing are other signs that senior status is creeping up on your pet.
Pets age at a quicker rate than humans. Using the charts below, you can see the age your cat or dog in relation to human years.
|Cat’s age||Human equivalent|
|6 months||10 years|
|8 months||13 years|
|1 year||15 years|
|2 years||24 years|
|4 years||32 years|
|6 years||40 years|
|8 years||48 years|
|10 years||56 years|
|12 years||64 years|
|14 years||72 years|
|16 years||80 years|
|18 years||88 years|
|20 years||96 years|
|21 years||100 years|
|Blue indicates senior — red indicates geriatric.|
|Age||Up to 20 pounds||21–50 pounds||51–90 pounds||Over 90 pounds|
|Blue indicates senior — red indicates geriatric.
Chart developed by Dr Fred L. Metzger, DVM, State College, Pa. Courtesy of Pfizer Animal Health.
Improvements in medical care, nutrition and preventative therapy mean that pets are living longer and happier lives. Having your furry friend enjoy their golden years involves a good balance between homecare and professional veterinary treatment.
As your pet gets older, yearly examinations are critical. Too often a minor issue can escalate into a potentially life threatening condition if left too long.
As the years pass, you may notice that Spot’s girlish figure has slowly disappeared. Obesity is a major concern in all pets, especially our seniors. Carrying those extra pounds decreases lifespan and increases the likelihood of certain conditions including diabetes and liver disease. Nutritional consultations are available to discuss what would best suit the needs of your pet.
Another issue with the older pet is oral care. Especially common in older pets, gingivitis and tartar build up can lead to tooth loss, difficulty eating and can be the source of infection which can affect your whole pet’s health. All of these concerns can be examined during your visit and if needed a dental procedure scheduled.
Diabetes can occur in both cats and dogs. Signs can include increased thirst and hunger. There are however, many conditions which have similar symptoms so it is best to have an exam and blood work completed.
Just like in humans, arthritis can decrease enjoyment in life. Wear and tear on joints can make playing, swimming or even going for a walk more difficult. Arthritis, does not however mean an end to these activities. Changes in the type and duration of exercise along with weight loss will usually help lessen the effects of arthritis. In addition there are anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory medications available in both liquid and pill form. There are supplements available which also seem to help.
Skin and Coat
As pets age, their skin and coat condition deteriorates. Cats tend to groom themselves less meaning that regular brushing sessions are needed to prevent the build up of mats which, if left untreated, may require sedation in order to shave affected areas. Quality nutrition and grooming can play a vital role in the maintenance of your pet’s skin and hair health. Quite often, skin conditions can be linked to an underlying medical problem such as hypothyroidism in dogs. Therefore, a trip to your veterinarian is beneficial to rule out such disorders before beginning symptomatic treatment.
Just like us, as our pets age their kidneys decrease in their ability to flush the body. Decreased kidney function is a condition that will affect most animals as they reach senior status. Evaluation of kidney function through urinalysis and blood work allow both owner and veterinarian to make an informed decision of the course of action needed; whether medication or just a change in nutrition.
The Tantramar Veterinary Hospital prides itself on having the senior citizens of the pet world represent a large portion of its clientele. If you think it’s time for your older friend to come in for a senior exam or to discuss an ongoing condition don’t hesitate to give us a call.
Time for a senior exam?
Check all that apply. My pet:
- Is drinking more than usual
- Seems to get lost
- Isn’t acting him/herself
- Has difficulty finding the door or car
- Doesn’t respond to verbal commands
- Shows signs of pain
- Sleeps more in a 24 hour period
- Sleeps less in a 24 hour period
- Has difficulty climbing stairs/getting up
- Persistently vocalizes
- Seems to shake/have tremors
- Is stiff or limping
- Has increased urination
- Has accidents in the house when previously housebroken
- Does not interact with us as much
- Is eating more/eating less
- Has lost/gained noticeable weight
- Is panting excessively
- Has new lumps or has lumps that are growing
- Is tearing and rubbing their eyes more than usual
- Has a coat that is becoming greasy, dry or flaky
- Is starting to lose its hair
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then it may be time for a senior exam. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.