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What to Expect as Your Pet Gets Older

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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.

1. Normal Changes Seen With Age in Senior Cats

Herman Quinn - October 2007
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.

2. Normal Changes Seen With Age in Senior Dogs

Old Dog © BobMacInnes on Flickr
© 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.

3. Senior Dementia in Cats

emdot / Flickr Creative Commons
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.

4. Senior Dementia in Dogs

Boris the dog - image credit: Jackie Gagarin Curry "octoberdog" on Flickr
© 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.

5. Senior Cat Health - When it is Time to See The Vet

Are looking at me? © dogbomb on Flickr
© dogbomb on Flickr
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.

6. Senior Dog Health - When it is Time to See The Vet

In Memoriam by normanack on Flickr
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.

7. Is My Pet Acting This Way Due to Old Age or Is He Sick?

Belle / GenGlo
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?"

8. Anipryl® - Help for Senior Dogs?

Senior dog relaxing under the table / GenGlo
GenGlo
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.

9. Arthritis in Dogs and Cats

Walking the Dog by Nancy Wombat on Flickr
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.

10. My Senior Dog is Drinking Lots of Water

Two Dogs Drinking Water by John Steven Fernandez on Flickr
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.
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