Caring for your Senior Pet

Caring for your pet from the age of 7

How do I know if my pet is a senior pet?

Pets age much faster than humans. Dogs and cats age approximately 7 years to our one year. Large breed dogs such as Great Danes are considered senior at 6 years old, while smaller breeds such as miniature poodles are considered senior between 8 and 10 years of age.

What signs of aging can my pet exhibit?


Just like people, each pet is different, but you may notice some of the following indications of aging:


  • Less energy as your pet gets older
  • A reluctance to sit or rise due to stiffness in the joints
  • Small lumps or masses or in different areas on their body
  • An increase in the daily water consumption
  • Dental disease
  • A blue haziness in your pet’s eyes
  • Age-related hearing loss

Small lumps or masses or in different areas on their body – Having a mass examined and aspirated (a sample of the cells taken with a needle similar to drawing a blood sample) is the only sure way of determining if it poses a health risk. You should let your vet know about any mass, existing or new that you find on your pet.

An increase in the daily water consumption – This can be a symptom of several serious disorders common in senior pets:

  • Diabetes
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Hormonal disorders

We can recommend blood and urine tests that can help early identification of potential problems.

Dental disease – Dental care is important at any age, but it is especially important for our senior pets. Chronic tartar accumulation gives rise to gingivitis which can adversely affect other organs of the body such as the heart, liver and kidneys. A good home dental care plan and any necessary professional dental treatment can help your pet keep all of their teeth well into their senior years and beyond. Your White Cross Vets team can suggest several options for effective home dental care.

A blue haziness in your pet’s eyes – This can be a normal effect of aging in the lens called nuclear sclerosis. Nuclear sclerosis does not typically affect vision, however you should have your pet’s eyes checked by a vet to ensure that any cloudiness is not caused by a more serious problem such as cataracts that can result in blindness.

Age-related hearing loss – This can result in your pet being easily startled if you approach from behind, or he/she is harder to wake from sleeping. If you feel your pet has any hearing loss, you should speak with your vet to rule out any treatable medical problems that can improve hearing.

What is the best way to care for my senior pet?

It is important to have your pet examined by a vet twice a year to properly diagnose any age-related diseases. Early detection of illness allows for early intervention and a better prognosis for your pet. Blood tests are commonly recommended every six months to help detect subtle changes that may otherwise go unseen. If a problem is detected, your vet will prescribe a treatment plan that is appropriate for your pet’s condition. This might mean long-term medication or a change of diet.

Is my pet in pain?

Arthritis may appear as pet’s age and pets may also grow more sensitive to changes in temperature. An arthritic pet may be very uncomfortable in colder environments. An x-ray can help diagnose arthritis. Your vet may prescribe oral pain medication to help ease the inflammation and discomfort caused by arthritis. Routine blood work is usually performed prior to starting a pain medication regiment and again annually throughout treatment to assess liver and kidney function.

Should I feed my pet a different diet?

Metabolism slows for senior pets, meaning they don’t need as many calories as younger pets. It is recommended to feed your pet a food that is specifically designed for seniors. Speak to one of our team to find out which diet is right for your pet’s specific needs, you can also find useful dietary tips from Hills Nutrition about caring for your senior dog here and advice for senior cats here.

With the proper care, your senior pets can live for a very long time.

To arrange a senior pet health check, or if you have any questions, contact your local practice.

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