The definition of a senior pet is 7-8 years old for large breed dogs, 8-9 years old for small breed dogs, and over 10 years old for cats. Generally, large breed dogs live approximately 12-13 years, but can live to be 17. Small breeds live slightly longer. Cats can live 20 years in some instances. A good, balanced diet coupled with superior veterinary care can ensure your pet lives a long, healthy life. Use the following guidelines along with your veterinarian’s recommendations-your pet will thank you!!
- Have a minimum data base (blood work and urinalysis) performed at your veterinarian’s office every 6-12 months.This is extremely important, as most animals hide illness until it has become advanced. Doctors can catch disease in the early stages and potentially treat.
- Start your pet on a joint supplement. Any product that contains glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are good choices. Some animals will also need an anti-inflammatory to help with arthritis pain. It is best to start supplement BEFORE your pet is showing signs. If your pet has already shown signs of arthritis (slowing down, not jumping up, not greeting you), then you may not have as great of results with the supplements. It can take up to 6 weeks before the full benefits of joint supplement are seen.
- Every senior pet needs a senior diet. There are a lot of diets on the market and you need to be choosy . For example, the diet will be prescribed by your veterinarian if your pet has diabetes, is overweight, or has intestinal disease. Any manufacturer can state that their diet is a “senior” diet, so ask your vet any recommendation he or she may have.
- Discuss any abnormal behavior with your veterinarian, no matter how minor it may seem. Increased drinking/urinating, panting, chewing, limping, or lethargy can signal problems with your pet.
- Be sure to watch your pet’s haircoat. As they age, they are not as clean as they used to be, especially cats. Tell your vet if your cat has stopped grooming or is becoming matted. Every pet needs to have their teeth cleaned at least annually.
- Humans are encouraged to have dental prophylaxis every 6 months, and we brush our teeth twice daily! Dental decay and tooth abscesses are painful and unfortunately common.
- Your pet may need thoracic and abdominal radiographs performed every 6-12 months, along with an ECG and blood pressure measurement. This can screen for arthritis, heart disease, abdominal masses and cancer.