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As your dog or cat ages, we will need to provide more frequent and additional exams depending on the conditions that arise. Starting in middle age, we’ll gather baseline information that allows us to track any changes over time and catch any problems as they occur. Organ function and nutrition will become a focus. It is very important to keep your dog or cat from getting overweight, which can be the tendency in middle age.
When is my pet considered "senior"? Large dogs are considered senior at four to six years of age, whereas for smaller dogs it is at eight. Cats are approaching their senior years at nine.
What are common issues or conditions in senior pets?
When should I be concerned about my senior pet’s health?
It’s natural for your older pet to slow down and to become less playful and active. Many cats and dogs also suffer cognitive decline, similar to human Alzheimer’s or dementia. You might notice disorientation or forgetfulness. Close observation of your pet’s behavior and physical condition is important. Mention changes you see to us. Red flags are changes in weight, decreased or increased thirst, pain upon movement, and changes in elimination (bathroom) habits. It’s better not to assume all changes are related to old age and thus untreatable.
Read the AHHA’s guidelines for owners on caring for senior pets. Learn more about the special needs of the senior cat and how you can keep your older kitty healthy in an excellent article from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.