Did you know that cats and dogs are considered to be seniors when they turn just seven years of age? While making the life change from young pup or kitty to senior doesn’t mean that their life is over by any means, it does mean that a new stage of care must be employed. This is especially true with larger breeds, which can have a shorter life span compared to smaller animals. In fact, some large breeds are considered to be “senior” when they are between five and six years.
The reason why they are placed in this group at such a seemingly young age when compared to humans, is that age-related problems become more commonplace at the regular veterinary check-up at this age. The type of food that they eat, the amount of exercise that they get and even dental care for pets can all change when they are between five and seven years of age. A visit to your local veterinary clinic in Dartmouth can help you to gauge the age of your pet and make adjustments to suit his or her needs more effectively.
Typical Changes in Senior Pets
Anchor Animal Hospital is a local Dartmouth emergency vet and clinic that treats a wide variety of animals at every stage of their lives. It is important to understand that the commonly believed myth of “dog years” is not really accurate. Dogs do not age at the rate of seven years for ever calendar year. They are smaller animals than humans and their bodies begin to show signs of age and normal “wear and tear” sooner.
A gray muzzle or coat, a slower pace with regard to exercise and activity, these are just some of the outward signs that we can see. However, if we were to look inside, we would also see that our pet’s organs and body systems are changing over time. Their bodies get old and wear down just like ours do.
Older pets are more likely than younger pets to develop specific diseases that are typically attributed to old age, such as arthritis, liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease and cancer. In fact, studies reveal that dogs are just as likely to develop cancer as humans are, with cancer accounting for almost half the deaths in pets over the age of ten. Other conditions, such as hearing loss and the development of cataracts and other eye problems, are also very similar to what we see in aging humans. Most pets adjust well to hearing and vision loss and are able to navigate well in their homes and backyards.
Pay Attention and Visit Your Vet
Aging pets may need to visit the veterinary clinic in Dartmouth for check-ups more often than younger dogs, depending on their health needs. Pay attention to your dog’s level of activity around the time that he or she turns five years of age and keep watching to see if there are any noticeable changes. Arthritis could be the reason why your dog stop jumping up on his favorite couch spot or doesn’t want to jump up in bed to cuddle at night. Pain, depression and a perceived “grouchiness” are also common in older dogs as they become frustrated with not being able to do all the things they used to do.
If you suspect an injury or serious condition, bring your pet into the Dartmouth emergency vet, otherwise just make sure to schedule annual veterinary check-up appointments, unless your vet tells you otherwise. Dental care for pets that are getting older is also important, as gum disease, tooth loss and other conditions can make it difficult for them to eat. Paying attention to your pet’s moods, activities and behaviors can sometimes be the first indication that medical attention is needed. Don’t be afraid to call Anchor Animal Hospital with questions – we are here to help.
What to Expect at the Vet
When you bring your senior pet into the veterinary clinic in Dartmouth, you can expect a regular physical check-up, but with special attention paid to areas where senior dogs often need help the most. Weight is very important in order pets, as it can lead to diabetes, increase risk for arthritis, heart disease, skin problems and even high blood pressure. Cats will often have issues with hyperthyroidism, which can lead to rapid weight gain. So it is very important to tell the veterinarian anything you can think of that might help to provide better care when you come for a veterinary check-up.
To schedule and appointment or to learn more about our services, please give Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth, MA a call at 508-996-3731. We provide care to pets throughout the South Coast region. Cats, dogs, ferrets, rabbits, pocket pets and more are all welcome at Anchor Animal Hospital!