April 1, 2010
Caring for older Pets

Q. When does a pet become “old”?

A: It varies, but cats and small dogs are generally considered geriatric at the age of 7. Larger breed dogs tend to have shorter life spans and are considered geriatric when they are approximately 6 years of age.{{more}} Owners tend to want to think of their pet’s age in human terms.

While it is not as simple as “1 human year = x cat/dog years”, there are calculations that help put a pet’s age in human terms.

The oldest recorded age of a cat is 34 years. The oldest recorded age of a dog is 29 years.

Q: What kinds of health problems can affect older pets?

A: Geriatric pets can develop many of the same problems seen in older people, such as:

Heart disease
Kidney/urinary tract disease
Joint or bone disease

Q: My older pet is exhibiting changes in behavior. What’s going on?

A: Before any medical signs become apparent, behavioral changes can serve as important indicators that something is changing in an older pet, which may be due to medical or other reasons. As your pet’s owner, you serve a critical role in detecting early signs of disease because you interact and care for your pet on a daily basis and are familiar with your pet’s behavior and routines. If your pet is showing any change in behavior or other warning signs of disease, contact your veterinarian and provide them with a list of the changes you have observed in your pet. Sometimes, the changes may seem contradictory such as an older pet that has symptoms of hearing loss but also seems more sensitive to strange sounds.

Possible behavior changes in older pets.
Increased reaction to sounds.
Increased vocalization.
Decreased interaction with humans.
Increased irritability.
Decreased response to commands.
Increased aggressive/protective behavior.
Increased anxiety.
Change in sleep cycles.
House soiling.

To be continued next week …

For further information, contact: Dr. Collin Boyle Unique Animal Care Co. Ltd.
Tel: 456 4981