Senior Pet Awareness

by Sophia P. Decker, LVT

Is your pet a “senior citizen”?  If your pet is seven years or older, he is considered a mature or senior pet.  Some people are surprised by this fact.  Pets do age faster than we do, and as your pet ages, there are several medical conditions that can occur.  Common conditions that are seen in older pets include osteoarthritis, kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, growths, cancer and hormonal disorders.  Frequent medical checkups and laboratory testing are recommended to catch any early signs of disease.    Senior lab tests include a complete blood count, a urinalysis, a general chemistry panel, a fecal check, and a thyroid test.  Most of these tests can be done in-house at your veterinarian’s office.

Golden retriever dog

When you take your senior pet to the veterinarian’s office for his next checkup, here is a list of items you should discuss with your veterinarian about your pet.

  • Easy accessibility to litter box, food, and bed for cats
  • Increased drinking, urination, and incontinence
  • Ability to climb stairs
  • Mobility and joint health
  • Nutrition and weight management
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Dental care
  • Cold/heat intolerance
  • Any growths or changes in growths
  • Changes in appetite

The following is a list of signs that indicate a problem with your senior pet.  If you notice any of these signs, make an appointment to have your pet seen by a veterinarian.  The sooner a problem can be diagnosed, the more treatment options you will have for your pet.  With advancements in nutrition, diagnostics, and treatment, our pets are living longer and healthier lives.

  • Significant and sustained increase in water consumption or urination
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Significant and sustained changes in appetite
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Difficulty passing stool/urine or blood in stool/urine
  • Diarrhea lasting more than three days
  • Changes in housetraining
  • Lameness
  • Noticeable change in vision
  • Foul mouth odor and inability to chew dry food
  • Hair loss
  • Excessive panting or breathing heavily at rest
  • Sudden collapse or weakness
  • Seizures
  • Persistent coughing or gagging
  • Increased size of abdomen
  • Increased amount of sleeping

Your pet’s senses gradually become less sharp as he ages.  You will probably notice subtle changes in sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell over time.  You may also notice cognitive and behavioral changes as well.  Keep your senior pet mentally and physically active as much as possible to keep his mind and senses sharp.  If you have any questions about your senior pet’s health, call or visit your veterinarian.  Older pets still have lots of love to give!