Senior Care

Thanks to better care, pets are living longer now than they ever have before – but as pets get older, they need extra care and attention. Regular veterinary examinations can detect problems in older pets before they become advanced or life-threatening, and improve the chances of a longer and healthier life for your pet.

We recommend six monthly health checks, particularly in geriatric pets. The senior check involves a detailed health check to assess weight

When is a pet considered "senior"?

It varies, but cats and small dogs are generally considered “senior” at seven years of age. Larger breed dogs tend to have shorter life spans compared to smaller breeds and are often considered senior when they are 5 to 6 years of age.

Age is not a disease. Although senior pets may develop age-related problems, good care allows them to live happy, healthy and active lives in their senior years.

What problems are more common in senior pets?

While it’s easy to spot the outward signs of aging such as greying haircoat and slower pace, it’s important to remember that pet’s organ systems are also changing. An older pet is more likely to develop diseases such as heart, kidney and liver disease, cancer or arthritis. Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while cats have a somewhat lower rate.

It is normal for pets to lose some of their sight and hearing as they age, similar to humans. Older pets may develop cataracts, and they may not respond as well to voice commands. If you teach your pet hand signals at a younger age, it may be easier for you to communicate with your pet as his/her hearing worsens with age. Simple gestures such as “come” or “stop” can allow you to safely retain control of your pet without the use of words. Pets with poor sight or even blindness can get around well in familiar environments. If your pet’s eyesight is failing, avoid rearranging or adding furniture or other items that could become obstacles.

Changes in activity

If your furry friend is starting to avoid active playing or running or if he/she has trouble with daily activities such as jumping up on a favourite chair or into the family car, he/she may have arthritis. A pet with arthritis pain may spend more time sleeping and may be snappy or irritable. There may be other reasons for these changes; have your pet examined by your veterinarian to determine the cause of the problems. Veterinarians have access to many therapies to help manage your pet’s arthritis, and simple changes in your home such as orthopedic pet beds, raised feeding platforms, stairs and ramps may also help your older pet deal with arthritis.

Changes in behaviour

Behaviour changes in your pet can serve as the first indicators of aging. These changes might be due to discomfort or pain (arthritis, etc.) or worsening sight or hearing, but they may also be due to the normal aging process. Some behaviour changes in older pets may be due to cognitive dysfunction, which is similar to senility in people.

Age is not a disease. Although senior pets may develop age-related problems, good care allows them to live happy, healthy and active lives in their senior years.

Changes in weight

Obesity in older pets increases the risk of arthritis, breathing problems, insulin resistance or diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, skin problems, cancer and other conditions. Once your veterinarian evaluates your pet’s condition, he or she can recommend a proper diet and suggest other steps to help your pet maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Sudden weight loss in an older pet is also a source for concern, especially in cats. Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland), diabetes and kidney disease are common causes of weight loss in senior cats. If you notice any sudden changes in your older pet’s weight, contact your veterinarian.

How should I care for my senior pet?

Annual examinations are an essential factor in caring for senior pets. Bi-annual examinations are recommended for geriatric patients over age 10-12 and for any pets with ongoing chronic medical conditions that need to be monitored more regularly.

At senior health check, the vet will do a detailed physical examination including:

Bone, Joint and Muscle Examination

Skin & Coat Examination

Heart & Lung Evaluation

Eye & Ear Health Examinations

Abdominal Examination

Urinary Tract Examination

Neurologic Examination

Nutrition & Weight Assessment

Lifestyle & Behaviour Consultation

Nail Trim if Required

After performing a thorough physical examination of your pet and asking a few questions, the vet will develop a treatment plan for your pet. Some diagnostic testing may be advised such as blood and urine tests for internal organ function, blood pressure, x-rays or ultrasound. Please ask us about a special package for senior tests.

Introducing new pet as your pet gets old

It is best to acquire a new pet when your older pet is still active and can move away from the younger animal if he/she needs a “me time.” Senior pets need to have a provision of a quiet, secure place where they can walk away and rest, undisturbed, in comfort.