As your pet ages, it is important to pay attention to their health because they are more likely to get sick or need extra care. However, some people may wonder when their pet is considered a senior pet, and what is the best way to care for them.
If you have a senior dog or cat and would like to find out more about senior care, read our Broomfield, CO, animal hospital’s article below.
What is a Senior Pet?
The term senior pet refers, like with humans, to a specific age. This specific age is different for different pets. In this article, we are going to focus on dogs and cats.
Cats enter senior status at the age of 7 human years. This equates to about the age of 54. Other key ages for cats are:
- At 10 years old, a cat is about the age of 63.
- At 15 years old, a cat is about the age of 78.
- At 20 years old, a cat is about the age of 97.
As cats get older, you will want to consider preventive care as well as general wellness. Diet, exercise, and yearly or bi-yearly vet visits are key to staying healthy.
The age ranges for dogs depends on the size of the dog as well as the number of human years. For the sake of clarity:
- Small dogs weigh 0-20 pounds
- Medium dogs weigh 21-50 pounds
- Large dogs weigh 51-90 pounds
- Extra large dogs weigh 90+ pounds
|Human Years||Small Dogs||Medium Dogs||Large Dogs||Extra Large Dogs|
|7||About 44||About 47||About 50||About 56|
|10||About 56||About 60||About 66||About 78|
|15||About 76||About 83||About 93||About 115|
|20||About 96||About 105||About 120||About 135+*|
*There is no record of an extra large dog living to be 20 years old so this is just an estimate of how old they might be at that age.
Like with cats, as dogs get older, you will want to consider preventive care as well as general wellness. Diet, exercise, and yearly or bi-yearly vet visits are key to keeping your pet healthy.
As cats and dogs age, health problems will become more likely. Similar to elderly humans, our pets’ bodies start to weaken. They can get sick easier. When they get sick it can be harder to fight it off.
Both cats and dogs can suffer from:
- Heart disease
- Kidney or urinary tract disease
- Liver disease
- Joint or bone disease
- Immunocompromising diseases
- Loss of hearing
- Loss of sight
- Loss of smell
- Feline immunodeficiency disease
- Feline leukemia virus
- Upper respiratory infections caused by bacteria or viruses
- Kidney and urinary tract disease
- Hyperthyroid disease
- Kennel cough
- Respiratory Infections caused by bacteria or viruses
- Skin Infections caused by bacteria or viruses
As your pets get older, you will need to make accommodations for them. There are many areas in which to make these changes.
The first thing you want to do once your cat or dog passes the 7-year mark is to consider taking your pet to the vet more often. Once your pet reaches age 7, you should be taking your pet to the vet every six months.
The main reason to do this is to ensure that you catch something in the early stages. For instance, pets can survive cancer if you catch it early. However, the longer the cancer grows, the more likely it is that your pet will not survive.
Vet visits for senior pets can cost more money. This is because they run more tests. They want to make sure your pet is healthy and as your pet ages they become more vulnerable. The extra cost is minimal, but noticeable.
Vaccination also becomes more important as your pet ages. Their immune system will grow weaker. Vaccinations will help your pet’s body fight off infections.
On top of vet visits, you will need to consider diet, exercise, mental and emotional health, and parasites. You will also want to consider your home environment.
Older pets may be less patient around young children. You may need to create a space just for your older pet so that they can get away from touchy, feely children.
Older pets may also suffer from arthritis or stiffening joints. To help them, try to make sure everything they need is easily within reach.
Cats who used to sleep up high might need a bed on the floor. As they get older, pets may not be able to climb stairs. They will need everything to stay on one floor. For instance, cats will need a bed, food, water close to each other. Make sure you keep the litter box and your cat’s food away from each other, though. If you have a two- or three-story house and want to take your pets up and down the stairs, you will need to provide all of these things on all levels.
Senior pets will benefit from having a healthy diet that is formulated for their aging bodies. As dogs and cats age they will become more sedentary. They will need you to make the right choice of food.
You don’t want them eating too many calories when they nap all day. You also do not want them eating too few calories. You want to switch your pet to senior food when they start slowing down. For cats and dogs this will differ. Between the ages of 10 and 15 is the best time to switch your cat or dog over to senior food.
Something to be aware of is that younger pets may eat the senior food and your senior pets may eat the food for your younger pets. It will help if you try feeding them in different areas.
As your pet ages, they will need help to avoid parasites, viruses, and bacteria that can make them sick. Their bodies will have a harder time fighting off sickness. If your older pet shows any signs of sickness, go to the vet immediately. It is better to be safe than sorry.
As your pet ages, try to encourage them to keep active. Play with them. Take your dog for a walk or throw a ball. Do whatever you have to do to keep them moving. If they become too sedentary, they may gain weight which can affect their health.
Mental health problems can also affect pets. They may become confused or disoriented. If you notice these symptoms talk to your vet about the proper care. Your vet can help you determine what, if anything, can be done to make things easier for your pet.
As pets near the end of their life, their quality of life may diminish due to poor health. At some point, their age and health may lead you to consider euthanasia as an alternative to continuing their suffering.
It is a hard decision for any pet owner to make, and it is best that you consider what your pet needs and what your veterinarian recommends. Your vet will be with you through every step of the way.
Is It Time for Your Senior Pet’s Visit? Give Laurel Veterinary Clinic a Call
While caring for senior pets can bring many changes and challenges, it can also be rewarding. Senior pets are more mellow and relaxed than more youthful pets. Don’t let fear of the future keep you away from sharing your love with these wonderful animals.