Some people may argue that the if pet is already old, an extended treatment regime would not add much quality to the pet's life in the case of advanced age. This may be true -- something to discuss with your veterinarian. It is important to note, however, that a pet may simply seem older due to illness and, once restored to health, exhibits increased energy and zest. This is when the phrase "acting like a puppy (or kitten) again" comes to mind.
A dog is considered to be a "senior" after age 7 (varies with the breed - giant breeds are considered senior at 5 or 6) and a cat is considered to be a "senior" after age 10 or so. An annual veterinary examination is essential for keeping your pet in optimal health and staying on top of age-related changes.
What is to be expected as a pet ages? This is not a definitive list, but here are some common age-related changes to watch for:
- less active overall
- sleeps more (especially cats)
- reduced sense of hearing
- reduced sense of sight
- less able to handle temperature extremes
- reduced muscle mass
Below is a list of common findings that are often explained away as changes related to "old age". These changes may be symptoms of a disease process. If you notice any of these symptoms, a call to your veterinarian is warranted:
- weight loss or gain
- loss of appetite
- foul breath/dental disease
- drinking and/or urinating more than usual
More About Senior Pets: All About Senior Dogs and Cats - Main Index
This list is focused on age-related changes, it is not a comprehensive health checklist. Any time that you notice a change in your pet (at ANY age) that you are unsure of, please call your veterinarian to discuss.