Caring for Your Senior Pet

Dogs and cats in their senior years may have slowed down a bit, but they are no less important members of our families. However, changes to their bodies occur rapidly and they become more susceptible to diseases such as cancer, arthritis, dental disease, diabetes, and heart disease.
 
This is why we recommend twice-yearly geriatric exams tailored to your pet's age, breed and condition. A geriatric exam is more extensive than a simple checkup and includes a complete physical exam, oral and rectal examinations and recording of body weight and body condition. Your veterinarian also examines your pet’s ears, eyes, and internal organs. Laboratory work should also be done, including a complete blood count, urinalysis, fecal exam, biochemistry profile, thyroid hormone screening, and when indicated, imaging with radiographs or ultrasound.
 
The following information is designed to help you be a better care giver to your older pet and understand why we recommend additional exams and testing.
 

At What Age Is My Pet A Senior?

The aging process varies between species and specific breeds as well as individual animals. For example, a giant breed dog might be a senior at five years of age and a toy breed not until years later. Most cats become seniors slightly later than dogs, between their eight and tenth year. Owners should start to consider age-related issues at 6-8 years in dogs, and 10 years in cats.