While most people think about adopting puppies or kittens as the best choice for bringing a new pet into the family, there are other pets who need loving homes and there are many people who benefit from adopting older dogs and cats. Senior pet care may seem like a brand new concept, especially if you have never had an older pet, but it can be a mutually rewarding experience for both animal and human. In recent years, shelters, foster programs and adoption services have been made available that are specifically designed for senior pets.
One of these senior specific programs is the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary in Middle Tennessee. This program has been used as an example to other states in New England and all across the country as a means of helping senior pets find safe and loving homes while having all of their medical needs properly met. There are several dog and cat specific rescue programs in the northeast that are designed to meet the demands of senior pet care and the needs of the beautiful animals who just need a safe place to spend their retirement years.
What Is a Senior Pet?
You might be surprised that dogs are considered “senior” by the time they are seven years old. If you have ever had an older dog, you know that they still have many good years ahead of them after this point – regardless of the age label that is put on them. While larger breed dogs tend to live shorter lives than smaller breed dogs, it is agreed upon in the veterinary community that seven is the senior age for dogs.
Working directly with your veterinarian in South Coast New England can help you to start your new relationship with a senior pet on the right foot. Visit your Dartmouth vet hospital for an initial check-up to determine the pet’s health and evaluate the current diet or activity level for any potential changes. Senior pet care involves regular check-ups, sensitivity to limitations and changes in your pet’s activity level, dietary needs and an awareness by Dartmouth pet owners to the unique requirements associated with caring for a senior pet.
Contrary to the popularly held belief that dogs and cats age at a rate of seven years for every human year, this is simply not true. While dogs do seem to see more age-related issues at a younger age than humans and live a shorter life span, they certainly do not have a faster metabolism or aging rate than humans or any other animals. Learning how to spot outward signs of aging, such as a slowed pace or a graying coat and fact, can help pet owners know when to bring their dog or cat in for proper senior pet care.
Common Ailments for Senior Pets
Just like there are common ailments that affect people as we get older, there are some illnesses, diseases and other age-related conditions that affect our pets. Dartmouth pet owners should seek veterinary attention for their senior pets to ensure that they are providing the right amount of senior pet care for cats and dogs as they age. Some may be surprised to learn that cancer accounts for nearly 50 percent of the deaths in pets over the age of ten years, with dogs getting cancer at approximately the same rate as humans and cats getting it at a slightly lower rate.
Some of the other conditions that affect senior pets include:
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- heart disease
- cataracts and blindness
- hearing loss – partial or full
Some signs that could indicate the need for a visit to your Dartmouth vet hospital include:
- trouble with daily activities
- difficulty getting into pet beds or on furniture
- irritability when petting or sitting
- depression after normal activities
- sudden weight loss or weight gain
- change in eating habits – eating more or less
- change in drinking habits – drinking more water or less
- behavior changes
Regular Vet Check-Ups Are Helpful
One of the most beneficial things that you can do for your pet is to bring them in for regular vet check-ups. Senior pet care is important because older pets are more likely to develop these certain age-related conditions. The sooner they can be diagnosed, the better the results will be from treatment. Conditions that get ignored can become fatal or end up costing a lot more to fix after they have progressed.
Contact your veterinarian in South Coast at Anchor Animal Hospital to set up a preventative senior pet care schedule for your dog or cat. Give us a call today at 508-996-3731 to set up an appointment or to speak with one of our veterinary team members. Anchor Animal Hospital has been providing care for Dartmouth pet owners and pets from all over Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island since 1975. We have earned a solid reputation within the South Coast area for providing quality veterinary care for a wide variety of local pets.