Senior Pets

Posted By Dr Angela Sutherland  
00:00 AM

Everyone loves puppies and kittens, they are just so adorable. But dogs and cats are a puppy or kitten for only a short period within their lives. Once cats turn 7 years old they are considered seniors, small and medium breed dogs (1 – 25kg) are classed as seniors once they turn 7 years old and large and giant breed dogs (over 25kg) are considered seniors once they are 5 years of age.

Becoming a senior pet unfortunately brings increased risks of many health conditions for both cats and dogs. Health conditions that can become more common in senior dogs include: cancer, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, dementia, obesity, osteoarthritis, dental disease, skin disease. It is recommended that your senior dogs have regular visits to your vet to help in detecting the onset of any of these health conditions.

There are also many signs that you can keep an eye out for at home. These include, weight loss or gain, increased drinking and/or urinating, lower tolerance for exercise, reduced sense of smell, hearing loss, poor vision, decreased playfulness and agility, difficulty chewing, poor digestion and digestive upsets, brittle nails, poor coat, loose skin and loss of muscle mass as well behavioural changes including less human interaction, confusion and disorientation, loss of toilet training and disrupted sleep/wake patterns. If you notice any of these signs within your senior dog contact your veterinarian.

Just like puppies have puppy food, your senior dog benefits greatly by having a food specifically designed for seniors. These foods support the nutritional changes that occur in older dogs to assist with a continuing high quality of life and to help prevent many of the health conditions that are more prone in senior dogs. Talk to your veterinarian about a diet to aid in your dogs’ current condition.

It is essential to keep your dog happy, healthy and comfortable within their senior years. It is recommended to keep your dog on a regular exercise routine to help keep muscle tone, bones and joints strong which will also help with preventing arthritis and general muscle stiffness. Providing a comfortable warm bed is also a great aid.  It is also necessary to keep up to date with your dog’s flea, tick and worming preventions as well as their annual vaccinations to help with their ongoing well-being. As dogs become older they also become less active, keep an eye on their toenails to ensure they are not becoming too long from being inactive and trim them when necessary. As dogs age their skin and coat also loose many essential oils, having a regular grooming schedule will ensure that your dog’s skin is stimulated which helps produce the necessary natural oils. Accidents may become a problem as bladder muscles weaken, pay extra attention because your dog will need to be let outside more promptly and frequently to avoid house soiling.

Along with dogs, cats are also at a heightened risk of many health conditions once they become seniors, these include: cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, arthritis, urinary disease, dental disease, behavioural and neurological disease, skin disease. It is recommended to have twice yearly check-ups with your vet to help detect these diseases in the early stages to have better chances of managing them successfully.

There are also many signs that you can keep an eye out for at home, these include weight gain or loss, decreased appetite, reduced activity and exercise, increased thirst, increased urination and/or accidents outside the litter tray, decreased agility, poor digestion and digestive upsets, poor grooming, loose skin, loss of muscle mass and behavioural changes including irritability, less human interaction, confusion and decreased playfulness. If any of these signs are noticed within your senior cat contact your veterinarian.

Just like senior dogs it is essential to ensure that your senior cat is fed a diet specifically designed to aid in the long term nutritional changes in senior cats. It is also a good idea to consider feeding your cat several meals a day instead of one large serving to aid in digestion. You can also help keep their muscle tone, bones and joints strong and healthy by providing the opportunity for regular exercise. Keeping up to date with flea, worming and annual vaccinations will also aid in their ongoing well-being. As cats age they may not be as active and may not be able to properly groom themselves, you can assist them by regular brushing and checking their toenail’s and trimming when necessary. Accidents may become more common as bladder muscles weaken, your cat is more likely to use the litter tray if there is always a clean one available, so provide extra litter trays and clean them more frequently.

If you are wanting to find out more about your senior pets individual requirements or want to begin a regular check-up regime call the friendly team at Maraboon vet on 07 4987 6800.