Caring for Senior Pets can be challenging. With advancements in veterinary care, pet nutrition and overall knowledge of pet well-being, our pets are living longer. Which is great news! More years with our beloved animals! However, senior pets can present all kinds of physical and mental issues as they reach their golden years.
Generally, pets are considered “senior pets” at around 7 years. This is especially true in cats, but can have some flexibility when it comes to dogs. Larger dogs (especially giant breeds) age much faster than smaller breeds, and are generally considered a “senior” at around 5 years old. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offered this chart for determining your pets age in human years:
As pet’s age, it can be difficult for pet owners to notice small changes in their pets behavior, activity, habits, etc. Many experts recommend keeping a journal of your pet’s daily, normal habits, so that it is easier to spot when changes occur. Ideas of things to keep track of would be eating/drinking habits, sleeping habits, activity levels, etc.
Nearly half of all senior pets will develop some type of Cognitive Dysfunction (CD). CD can lead to memory lapses, reduced (or increase) energy levels, disorientation, social anxiety, etc. Keeping your dog or cat mentally stimulated throughout their lives and into their later years, can help reduce symptoms associated with CD.
There are more treatment options for CD than ever before. Many veterinarians recommend a nerve pain medication, Gabapentin. Gabapentin can be used to treat anxiety associated with senility, as well as pain control, and even mild seizure control.
[Golden Gate Veterinary Compounding Pharmacy offers Gabapentin (and other medications to help aging pets) in several easy to medicate forms and flavors. Click here to view pricing.]
Physical issues such as arthritis, weight gain, incontinence, vision and hearing loss are all common in senior pets. Some of these symptoms can also be indicative of underlying, more serious issues, so it is important to discuss with your veterinarian. In fact, because pets age so much faster than humans, veterinarian visits are generally recommended at least twice a year when your pet reaches his/her geriatic years.
There are many medications, specialized diets and “alternative therapies” to help smooth the path through your pet’s golden years. Talk to your veterinarian often about changes that you can make to help your senior pet stay as comfortable as possible. And most importantly, enjoy every moment you get to spend with your pets, it's good for both of you.