Elder Pet Care

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 | 


A Word From Dr. Joyce Ashamalla

Aging is a natural part of life. As we get older, sometimes people develop health issues or problems that did not exist in their younger years. Dogs and cats also go through the aging process and can develop many similar problems that humans do. In this blog, we will cover pet care for seniors, how to recognize the aging process and how to help your beloved pet when they reach their older years. Elder pet care takes a little more time and dedication, but it is well worth it.

Elder Pet Care

Should I Start Elder Pet Care?

There is no single way to define when a pet becomes a senior. For dogs, the aging process is largely determined by the size and breed of the animal. Generally speaking, the smaller the dog, the longer they will live. Large breeds have a shorter life expectancy. In regard to cats, the breed of the animal does have some bearing on how long they will live, but generally speaking, a cat’s typical life span is between 15-18 years and they are considered seniors at age 10. Cats that spend a lot of time outdoors can often have a shorter life than a full time, indoor cat.

Signs That Your Pet Is Aging

As we said earlier, it is interesting to note that the signs of aging in animals have many similarities to humans. Here are some of the typical things you can watch for to determine if your pet is becoming a senior dog/ senior cat and if elder pet care is needed:

For Senior Dogs:

  • • Slowing down

  • • Greying of the face/coat (more common in senior dogs)

  • • Weight gain or loss

  • • Development of other health conditions

  • • Changes in eating /bathroom habits

  • • Avoiding stairs

  • • Tooth loss

  • • Thinning hair or loss

  • • Frequent stomach upset, problems with digestion

  • • Muscle weakness

  • • Dullness of coat

  • • Increased water intake (more common in senior cats)

  • • Arthritis

How To Help An Aging Pet

  • Regular/Annual Check Ups:  Maintaining a regular schedule to see your vet will go a long way toward continued health. In addition to needed shots/vaccines, the vet can recognize any issues that the untrained eye may not detect in a senior dog or cat. 

  • Watch For Changes:  If you see that suddenly your animal has a behavior change or that you spot vomiting, coughing, a change in urination/defecation or thirst, don’t hesitate to get them into the vet for an evaluation.

  • Vitamins/Supplements:  There are many excellent supplements on the market can help your pet with problems such as joint pain, dry skin, digestion and many other conditions.

  • Senior Pet Food:  There are many good brands of food that cater to the needs of senior pets. These foods are easier to digest and can contain additional supplements etc. Some senior pet foods include additives to help animals with cognitive functioning so that they remain "sharp". 

  • Exercise:  To the extent that the animal can tolerate it, exercise is a good way to keep your senior dog or cat moving, which can slow the effects of aging to a certain degree.   

It’s never easy to see our four legged friends growing older, but pet care for seniors can really help.   While it’s not possible to stop the aging process, we as pet owners can learn to recognize the signs and work closely with the vet to provide appropriate care for our senior dog and cat. Hopefully all of our beloved pets live long, healthy lives!