November is Senior Month at the vet clinic, where we like to celebrate and honour our wonderful senior patients.
Generally, cats and dogs are considered a “senior” around seven to eight years of age. Larger breed dogs tend to have shorter lifespans compared to smaller breeds, so they are sometimes considered a senior by five to six years of age.
Once our furry friends become seniors, yearly wellness checks are important to identify, monitor and treat any issues that may arise due to advancing age. Age-related diseases can arise subtly, and their symptoms may be easy to miss.
Regular vet visits can help set a baseline for what is normal for your pet, which makes it easier for owners to notice when something has changed.
Some signs of ageing can include restricted movement due to joint pain or discomfort, coughing, periodontal disease, changes in appetite like weight gain or loss, or changes in the appearance of the skin.
Monitoring your pet’s behaviour, appetite, and energy level will help you and your veterinarian keep track of your pet’s overall health.
During an annual exam, your veterinarian may recommend an annual blood panel. Even if your pet appears healthy, this can detect early disease processes that can be diagnosed and treated early, which can add years to your companion’s life!
Nutrition is also very important for mature dogs and cats. Ensuring they receive a well-balanced diet, specifically formulated for the nutritional needs of the maturing pet is key to avoid weight gain and muscle atrophy as our senior pets slow down their activity levels.
Weight gain can be hard on ageing joints, so keeping your senior pet in tip top shape will help them enjoy walks, swims and their daily routines.
Even when our furry friends get older, it is still important to keep their minds and bodies active.
One hour of activity per day is recommended for mature dogs. More than two hours of activity per day should be monitored to reduce the risk of discomfort and stiffness.
Swimming and walking are great activities for mature dogs!
Encouraging senior cats to stay active is also highly recommended. Senior cats are less active than kittens, but they can be kept active with interactive toys, treat toys, and large cat condos to climb.
If your cat likes to watch wildlife but isn't allowed outside, place a bird feeder by a window so that they have hours of entertainment.
There are also fantastic benefits to adopting a mature or senior pet such as no house training! Most senior dogs and cats are already house trained and are non-destructive.
Older dogs are often more relaxed, they are more willing to spend a day on the couch and require less exercise.
Older cats can be very low maintenance and easy to care for.
Senior pets come with their own history, so prospective owners will already know if they are good with children or other pets. It can be very rewarding to know that you are giving an animal a second chance at a loving home!
If you already have a senior pet at home, we recommend consulting with your veterinarian before introducing a new kitten or puppy into your household. There are tips and tricks to introducing a new family member without upsetting or stressing out your current senior friend.
November is Senior Month at many vet clinics, so reach out to your veterinary team if you have any questions about your senior pet’s health!
Pets First with Central Valley Veterinary Hospital offers monthly tips and information for pet owners in the Okanagan so that we can all stay safe and have fun with our furry friends in this beautiful valley! Central Valley Veterinary Hospital offers high-quality, compassionate care for your feline and canine companions.