Pets are living longer than they ever have before, but as pets age they need extra care and attention. And caring for a senior pet can become challenging if you are not adequately prepared for your pet’s old age.
Thanks to better medical care and awareness by pet owners, it is not unusual for pets to live much longer than ever before. Cats and small dogs are generally considered senior at age 7.
Larger breed dogs tend to have shorter life spans and are often considered senior at age 5 or 6.
Although older pets may develop age-related problems, good care allows them to live happy, healthy and active lives well into their senior years.
Signs of aging in senior pets include:
- Vision problems
- Lumps or other skin issues
- Weight loss or gain
- Bad breath or dental issues
Senior pets are more likely to develop diseases such as heart, kidney or liver disease, cancer or arthritis. Older pets often may have issues with their vision and hearing as they age. Some may develop cataracts and diabetes.
An aging pet is different than a geriatric pet. Geriatric dogs are typically at the older end of the senior period. Older dogs who are becoming elderly pets may have symptoms such as:
- Memory loss
- Confusion, irritability or other personality changes
- Abnormal sleep patterns
- Loss of muscle mass
- Increased urination or incontinence
- Impaired mobility
Older pets also may have less energy than they did when they were younger. Arthritis may affect your pets ability to run and jump as they once did. There are many medications and therapies that can help treat many of these common ailments that could afflict an older pet.
Products like orthopedic beds, raised feeding platforms, stairs and ramps may also help your older pet deal with arthritis.
Behavioral changes are also common in older pets. Weight can also affect senior pets and can increase risk of arthritis, difficulty breathing, insulin resistance or diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, skin problems, cancer and other conditions.
Regular visits to your vet may help identify any of these conditions that are more common in older pets. Sudden weight loss is also a cause for concern and you should consult with your vet if your pet’s weight is of concern.
If you have an elderly pet, learn more about caring for senior pets.