Identifying Aging

As dogs and cats grow older, their organs may become less efficient and they may be less able to resist infections and other diseases. As a responsible pet owner, you want your pet to remain healthy and active for as long as possible so you should be aware of any age-related warning signs that you should bring to your veterinarian’s attention.
Signs of Aging in Your Dog
As a rule-of-thumb, you should start looking for the signs of aging in your dog at about seven years of age. These signs include:
-Your dog’s coat and the area around his muzzle begin to turn gray. Because your pet is getting older, it is important to know that skin problems may occur more often since the skin may be thinner, less elastic, and does not repair itself as quickly.
-Your senior dog begins to slow down, has less energy and has trouble getting up or limping.
-Longer and more frequent naps are common side effects of aging
-A change in habits, including play preferences and eating or drinking habits is commonly observed in older dogs.
-Weight changes are common in older dogs. Some dogs gain weight as they age while others lose weight.
-Dental problems that translate as bad breath are more likely to appear in older pets.
-Hearing, vision and other senses become less acute when dogs get older.
Signs of Aging in Your Cat
-Because older cats are often less active, their muscle tone tends to reduce, which may further reduce
their ability to run, jump and climb. Lack of exercise contributes to the stiffening of joints.
-Frequently older cats suffer from a poor appetite as the senses of taste and smell often deteriorate with age. Teeth problems are common and can discourage eating.
-Bowel function may deteriorate with age, causing problems such as reduced ability to absorb food nutrients. This can lead to weight loss. Some elderly cats suffer from constipation.
-Elderly cats have decreased thirst and they are at risk of becoming dehydrated. This is particularly dangerous in cats with kidney problems.
-Older cats tend to sleep less heavily but more frequently.
-Old cats often have poor coats that may make them less resistant to the cold and wet.
Don’t Mistake Signs of Illness with Signs of Aging
Signs of illness include:
-Increased water consumption
-Increased urine production
-Changes in appetite
-Behavior changes (more or less sleep than usual, crying out, irritation, and lethargy)
-House training failure in a previously trained pet
-Vomiting or diarrhea
-Marked increase or decrease in weight
-Bad breath
-Open sores or lumps/bumps anywhere on the body
-Onset of persistent coughing or changes in breathing patterns