Caring for senior pets is different than caring for young pets. That is simply a fact. Just like humans, when cats and dogs start to enter their senior years they require a more proactive approach to medicine which often includes more visits to a medical professional. The quicker a disease can be detected, in any species, the more treatment options we have and the more likely we are to be successful. That means a happier, healthier and longer life for your pet. That’s why senior pet care is based on identifying and detecting disease as early as possible.
What Is A Senior Pet?
This is going to vary somewhat between veterinarians but at Parkside Animal Health Center we generally consider a senior pet to be around 7 or 8 years old. Since larger breed dogs have a shorter life span, their senior year start a little earlier at around 5 years old.
Any way you define senior for a cat or dog should be based on the overall expected lifespan of the pet. That’s why the AAHA “Senior Care Guidelines for Cats and Dogs” suggests that veterinarians define senior as any pet that is in the last 25% of their anticipated life span. Because lifespan is different for different breeds and sizes of dogs, this definition is more specific to the individual cat or dog.
With all that said, the general rule of considering a pet senior at age 7 or 8 will work well for most cases.
Catching Diseases Early
We recommend additional diagnostics for pets that are in the geriatric or senior age range. Again, the earlier we can detect a disease in your pet, the more treatment options we have and the greater likelihood that we can keep your senior pet happy and healthy for longer. For a full breakdown of what type of diagnostics we recommend, check out our blog post on senior pet care.