Small dogs and cats are considered seniors by eight to nine years old. Medium and large-breed dogs reach seniorhood by six to seven years old. When pets age, they can begin to develop problems similar to those we experience when we get older. In addition, they can be more susceptible to injury and illness. Some of these problems can be painful for our pets and can greatly reduce their quality of life.
At Poway Animal Hospital, our veterinarians are dedicated to helping owners keep their senior pets healthy and comfortable during their golden years. Your companion may be grey around the muzzle, but they deserve to stay active and happy for as long as possible.
Common Health Issues and Symptoms in Senior Pets
No two pets are exactly alike, but they can all share common problems, especially as they age:
- Bad breath
- Weight change (sudden gain or loss)
- Altered behavior such as hiding, excessive barking/meowing
- Increased stiffness, limping
- Incontinence/house soiling
- Increased thirst and urination
- Changes in litter box habits
- Confusion, disorientation
- Lumps, bumps, and skin/coat changes
- Changes in breathing patterns, excessive coughing, and/or panting
If you notice any of these changes in your pet, it might be a good opportunity to meet with your veterinarian to discuss them and consider treatment options.
Why Semi-Annual Exams are Important
When we see your senior pet for their wellness exam, we’ll check for the issues listed above and ask about your pet’s life at home. Even small changes in their daily habits can indicate a problem, and we want to leave no stone unturned. Changes can happen quickly in senior pets, which is why we recommend semi-annual exams to screen for potential illnesses.
Along with a nose-to-tail physical exam, senior pets should have routine blood work and X-rays done annually. Diagnostics allow for a more comprehensive exam that can show us details we might otherwise miss. This is especially relevant since older pets are prone to develop conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
For painful conditions, we offer various pain management options, including laser therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, and supplements. We’ll work directly with you to choose the safest and most effective options to keep your senior pet happy, healthy, and comfortable.