The Elderly Pet Organization is a 501C3 non profit organization whose mission is to provide information and education about elderly pets and to help pet parents prepare for the illnesses and accidents that may afflict an aging pet.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, cats and small dogs are generally considered geriatric at age 7. Larger breed dogs tend to have shorter life spans and are considered geriatric when they are approximately 6 years of age. Improved veterinary care and dietary habits have resulted in more and more pets living longer now than they ever have before. As a result, these senior pets, along with their owners and veterinarians are faced with a whole new set of pet age-related conditions.
Geriatric pets can develop many of the same problems seen in older people, such as:
- heart disease
- kidney/urinary tract disease
- liver disease
- joint or bone disease
Senior pets require increased attention, including more frequent visits to the veterinarian, possible changes in diet, and in some cases alterations to their home environment.
As pets age, they require patience, compassion and love. Their medical needs may change, and the level of care needed may also change.
Our site focuses not on diagnosing illnesses, but rather what to expect day to day when living with an elderly pet.
Our goal is to help pet parents prepare for the unexpected.
What to expect as your pet ages:
Increased veterinary care
Geriatric pets should have semi-annual vet visits vs. annual visits so any indication of illness can be detected early and treated early.
Diet and nutrition
Older pets often need food that is more readily digested and may have different calorie levels and ingredients, as well as anti-aging nutrients
Weight gain in older dogs can increase their risk for health problems, whereas weight loss is a bigger concern for older cats.
Older pets’ immune systems are not as healthy as those of younger animals. As a result, they may have a more difficult time fighting off diseases or healing as fast as younger pets.
Appropriate exercise can help an older pet maintain their mobility and keep them healthier longer.
Vaccination needs may change as your pet ages. It is important to speak with your vet about vaccinating your older pet.
Older pets can suffer from cognitive dysfunction and show signs of senility. Pet parents may need to spend more time interacting with their older pet to keep them mentally active.
As your pet ages, their physical limitations may cause them to need changes in their lifestyle, such as a change in sleeping areas so as to avoid stairs, more time indoors, etc. It’s important to watch your pet closely to see what special needs they may have as they age.
Non-neutered/non-spayed geriatric pets are at higher risk of mammary, testicular and prostate cancers.
Increased vet care can mean increased costs. Pet insurance should be considered before older pets become ill so that pet parents are never forced to choose between their pets well being and their finances. Pet insurance has changed over the years and many do not have lifetime limits for illnesses – we’ve researched some of the top pet insurance providers and we offer information on pet insurance in our blog.
For more information, read our blog.