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Caring for an Elderly Pet

As a general rule, pets enter their "senior" years at seven years of age. This can vary, however, with breed and size. Great Danes, for instance, are considered senior at five years of age. Our senior pets require a more intense level of care because as they age, they become more susceptible to health problems, and they respond differently to their environment. What may seem like a normal aging change could be a symptom of an underlying disease.

Symptoms commonly mistaken for aging changes are:

  • Difficulty climbing stairs
  • Increased stiffness or limping
  • Loss of housetraining
  • Increased thirst or urination
  • Excessive panting
  • Changes in activity level
  • Circling or repetitive movements
  • Persistent vocalization
  • Decreased responsiveness
  • Tremors or seizures
  • Skin and hair coat changes
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Altered appetite
  • Weight change
  • Loss of vision or hearing

We recommend that our senior pets be seen every six months for a routine wellness physical exam. Health problems can be detected and diagnosed earlier if pets are seen twice a year rather than once a year. At this time, we can also address any changes you are noticing in your senior pet.

We also recommend that senior pets receive a Senior Wellness Profile once a year. This is a series of tests whose goal is to detect an illness in its early stages. Early intervention increases the chances of successful treatment. Detecting terminal illness in the early stage could mean a better quality - as well as a longer length - of life for your senior pets.