Advances in veterinary care and nutrition mean that our pets are living longer, healthier lives. As your pet reaches the middle and senior years, changes in health or behavior may normal - due to "old age," but maybe not.
Learn what to expect as your pet ages and why regular vet checks are important. Early diagnosis and preventative care will help make your pets senior years as comfortable and healthy as possible.
Janet Tobiassen DVM
As a general rule of thumb, a cat who is 8 to 10 years old and older should be considered middle to senior aged, and a consultation with your vet is in order to determine the best health care maintenance program for your cat as s/he ages. Here are some of the normal changes expected as your cat enters the senior years.
© BobMacInnes on Flickr
What defines a "senior" dog? The old classic "one human year equals seven dog years" is an easy way to calculate and relate to your dog's age, but isn't the most accurate. Based on breed and size, learn when your dog is a senior and what to expect as he or she ages.
Is meowing more a normal behavior for a senior cat, or is there a problem? Here is a list of the most common signs seen with senior dementia in cats.
© Jackie Gagarin Curry "octoberdog" on Flickr
Have you noticed odd behaviors in your senior dog that you can't explain? Do dogs get Alzheimer's? Here is a list of the most common signs seen with senior dementia in dogs.
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Cats typically sleep a good part of the day. As they age, they sleep more. Subtle changes in behavior and health may be hard to miss. Here is a checklist of what to watch for.
by normanack on Flickr
Annual examinations are the norm, but more frequent exams may been needed, based on your pet's health. As always, if your pet is in pain, lethargic or simply not "normal," please consult your vet. This is especially important for senior pets - they may hide illness better and they do not often have the health reserves they did as a younger animal.
One of the most common questions for veterinarians is something along the lines of "is my pet just ____ (fill in the blank) due to old age?"
Anipryl® is the veterinary trade name for a drug called selegiline hydrochloride, also known as L-deprenyl. It is used in humans for treatment of Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, and Cushing's Disease. The drug is approved by the FDA for use in dogs for treatment Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, otherwise known as canine dementia.
by Nancy Wombat on Flickr
Stiffness, reluctance to jump up on the couch or in the car, and slow to lay down or get up are commonly seen in senior pets. Learn more about arthritis in pets and how to help with comfort and mobility.
by John Steven Fernandez on Flickr
If you notice that your pet is at the water bowl more often, the water bowl is empty on a regular basis, or your pet is asking to go outside more often or having accidents in the house, this is not typically due to old age or a change in the weather. Increased water consumption (and urination) is something that needs to be checked out as soon as possible.