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Caring for your Senior Pet

Has it been awhile since your senior pet has visited the vet? We know how quickly time can fly and with recent Christmas and New Year’s Eve it has been a busy and I hope wonderful time of the year. The New Year is a great time to make resolutions about health and a fantastic time to get your senior pet seen by your veterinarian.

So what age is considered senior? This varies for cats and dogs and also based on the size of your dog. The average cat is considered a senior from about 10 years of age onward. Tiny dogs (those under 10 kg) are considered senior from 8 years of age, small dogs (10-25 kg) from 7 years, medium dogs (25-40 kg) from 6 years and large dogs (>40 kg) from 5 years.  

Animals age relatively faster than us so for a senior pet a year between veterinary visits can be equivalent to a few years for us. That is a long time between doctor’s visits! We recommend at least 6 monthly checks for senior pets.  

So, what is your veterinarian checking when they assess your senior pet? As pets age they are more prone to a range of health conditions. Some examples include:

  • Dental disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Hearing and vision loss
  • Dementia
  • Incontinence
  • Heart and respiratory diseases
  • Cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • Obesity
  • Overgrown nails due to reduced activity
  • Matted fur due to reduced ability to groom themselves  

All these conditions can negatively impact on our pets’ quality of life as they age but in many cases medications or other therapies can help. The first most important step in helping your senior pet is getting them assessed by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will take a detailed history and perform a thorough examination from nose to tail.

Many health conditions can be detected or suspected from a full physical exam and history. Other conditions may require blood or urine testing to diagnose. Early detection plays a vital role in managing many conditions. As a result, blood and urine testing are recommended for all pets routinely once they become seniors. This is especially important if pets are on long term medications, prior to any anaesthesia or surgery or if they are unwell.

If it has been awhile since your senior pet has visited the vet or you have any concerns at all about their health, please feel free to contact our helpful staff on 8373 0301. For senior pets where travel may be difficult or stressful, we offer a compassionate house call service also.

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