November is National Senior Pet Month, where we educate not only the importance of adopting senior pets from shelters and bringing them into loving homes, but also the importance of early detection and prevention to help your pet live a longer, happy life. Here at Creekside Veterinary Clinic, we consider your pet a senior at the age of 7, but your pets species and breed play a big factor in determining if they are senior status or not. While every pet may age differently, large, and giant dog breeds tend to have shorter lifespans than smaller dog breeds. And cats can, on average, live longer than most dogs.
As your pet gets older, their healthcare requirements will need to adapt to their new needs, no different than when we start to age. Our Mature Health package was developed to help with this. Our doctors strongly recommend yearly testing, as we know that early detection and prevention is key to managing your furry friends lifelong heath. Included in our mature health package is everything that is in our annual wellness plans, along with a proper diet review, thyroid testing, urinalysis, and regular blood work for the early detection of diseases, allowing for proper and timely medical intervention. In some cases, with senior pets, our doctors will recommend testing every 6 months.
While age is not a disease, there are certain health conditions that affect our senior pets more often than younger ones. Many of these are chronic conditions that should not be ignored just because a pet is older.
A few of the health conditions that are common in old age:
- Lumps and Bumps
- Dental Disease
- Heart Disease
- Kidney & Liver Disease
- Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
- Neurologic Conditions
While some of these conditions can be easily treated, others will need lifelong management and frequent follow-ups with your veterinarian. It is important to note that certain changes in your pet are not just due to old age. Many of these conditions cause pain, urinary and stool accidents in the home, loss of appetite, nausea, coughing, lethargy, and diarrhea.
As your senior pet begins to show mental or physical changes with age, you should talk with your veterinarian ahead of time to know what to expect with continued aging, and how to know if they have a good quality of life. There are many different factors to consider when discussing quality of life for our pets, and we recommend starting the conversation now so you can have time to prepare for when the time comes to discuss end of life care.
For more information on caring for senior pets, please visit: