Senior Pet Care: Understanding the Aging Process
Changes in behavior, mobility, health, and cognitive function seem to be the hallmark of aging for both humans and animals alike. It’s not uncommon to see these signs and symptoms, commonly associated with the human aging process, develop in older pets as well.
And just as our seniors require and deserve special age-related care, so do our companion animals. So where does good senior pet care begin?
Senior Pet Status
For most cats and dogs, senior status begins around the age of 7. Some pet owners may signs of aging begin earlier or later, depending on breed, but with regard to veterinary care, your pet should begin the transition to senior care at age 7.
Many pets transition into senior status slowly, and it’s not uncommon for pet owners to miss the early stages of aging. If your older pet is beginning to show the following symptoms, it is likely a sign that his or her senior years have begun:
- Changes in behavior toward family and strangers
- Decreased mobility
- Noticeable change in hearing or vision
- Lack of interest in favorite activities or toys
- Changes in appetite and water consumption
- Changes in your pet’s sleep patterns
Health and Behavior in Senior Pets
For many pet owners, one of the first signs of aging you may notice in your pet is a shift in his or her behavior. Your pet may start eliminating indoors, or become irritable, sensitive to touch, and, in some cases, even aggressive toward both strangers and family. More often than not the changes in your senior pet’s behavior are a result of a change in his or her health.
Decreased hearing and vision, osteoarthritis, and decreased control of bladder and bowel functions can all play a part in the changes you’re experiencing in your pet’s behavior. Likewise, senior pets can suffer from a form of dementia, as well as more serious health issues.
It is important to remember that a change in your pet’s behavior does not mean that he or she is suddenly “bad.” Rather, it’s likely that your pet’s behavior is his or her way of saying that something is wrong, and that he or she needs your help.
Senior Pet Care at Elmhurst
At Elmhurst Animal Care Center, we love our senior patients and know how to help both them, and your, with the aging process. In an effort to give your pet the golden years he or she deserves, we encourage all our clients to bring their senior pets in for bi-annual senior wellness checks and undergo annual diagnostic blood screenings.
This hands-on approach to senior pet wellness not only helps us detect serious health concerns before they escalate, but helps you manage other concerns of aging such as nutrition, exercise, and behavior.
If you have any questions regarding your aging pet’s behavior or health needs, please don’t hesitate to call us. We are always happy to help.