Getting old isn't a disease, but senior pets are more liable to contract certain conditions related to age. Most cats and smaller dogs can be considered senior pets at age 7, while larger dogs are senior citizens by age 6. Large dogs' that have relatively shorter lifetimes move that timeline forward a year. Health and vitality ebb and flow depending on the pet, but by a senior age most pets will begin to develop some of the more familiar signs of aging. This is when it's time to take stock and figure out how your pet's lifestyle should change.

Our Durham Veterinarian on Senior Pets

old dog staring at cameraLike humans, the most obvious signs of age in your pet may be a graying coat or if they begin slowing down in daily activity. Your pet may want to spend more time napping in a sunbeam and less time running around the back yard or park. But aging isn't just a function that's visible on the outside. Your pet's internal organs are aging as well. Kidney, liver, and heart disease are more common as a pet ages, as are arthritis and cancer. In fact, cancer is the cause of death for almost half of all senior pets.

Your pet's sight and hearing will probably also be affected by age. Older pets can develop cataracts, and pets who look like they're ignoring commands such as "sit" or "stay" may simply not be hearing them any more. It's a great idea to teach your pet hand signals along with verbal commands while it's still young; this gives you the ability to still communicate with a pet with lack of hearing. Pets can function amazingly well with poor eyesight or even blindness as long as they live in a familiar environment. Refrain from moving furniture or taking your pet unsecured to unfamiliar places.

Remember To Take Your Senior Pet in for a Yearly Exam!

A senior pet exam is crucial for older dogs and cats. Our Chapel Hill and Durham veterinarian team recommend yearly exams for all senior dogs and cats. This allows the vet to evaluate your pet's progress and to give advice on any lifestyle changes you may want to make to ensure your pet has a comfortable and fulfilling life. Some common problems with older pets, such as weight gain, can be dealt with by using simple behavior modification: changing diet, eliminating treats, and encouraging exercise. Sudden weight loss, on the other hand, is often a sign of a serious illness and should be treated as such.

Your senior pet will undergo a lot of behavior changes, simply because of its aging view on the world. Some of the changes might be:

  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • More grouchy behavior
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Increased barking or meowing
  • Less interest in playing
  • Bothered by loud sounds

The best thing you can do for your senior pet is to provide a secure home environment without a lot of changes. Your pet will be happiest in familiar surroundings, with all the love and attention it's used to getting.

For more information about New Hope Animal Hospital, give us a call today at 919-490-2000!

Hospital Hours

Monday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Thursday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Friday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Saturday:

8:00 am- Noon

Sunday:

Closed

Our Location

Visit us today

Featured Articles

  • Fish

    If you’re thinking of getting a pet fish, you should know that your veterinarian has a lot of good advice about pet ownership. Fish can be very rewarding as pets, and you just may be surprised about how much fish actually interact with their owners. Here’s more valuable information about choosing ...

    Read More
  • Caring for Senior Cats

    Thanks to advancements in veterinary care, today’s cats can live well into their teen years. It is not uncommon for cats to live to be 18 or even older. However, in order for cats to live a long full life, they need proactive veterinary care to stay healthy. As cats age, they are at greater risk for ...

    Read More
  • Feline Stomatitis: Treatments

    Cats rarely display their pain, but cats with feline stomatitis are often the exception. If your cat appears to have mouth pain, is reluctant to eat, doesn't want to groom, is drooling, and doesn't want you to open its mouth, it may be suffering from this debilitating, degenerative oral condition, and ...

    Read More
  • Feline Leukemia Virus: What You Need to Know

    Feline leukemia (FeLV) is a virus that weakens your cat's immune system. Unfortunately, when the immune system does not function properly, your cat may be more likely to develop other diseases, such as cancer and blood disorders. How Cats Contract Feline Leukemia Cats get feline leukemia from other cats. ...

    Read More
  • Family Cats and Pregnant Women: Take Measures to Prevent Toxoplasmosis Infection

    Nothing must spoil the joys of becoming a new parent. Not even your pets. But family cats with normal, every day habits can pose a risk to expectant women. Women's immune systems can be disturbed by a parasite carried in fecal matter. If you're the primary caretaker of your family's feline friend it ...

    Read More
  • Create an Environment Your Cat Will Love

    The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery confirms that feline emotional wellbeing, behavior and physical health are a result of how comfortable they are in their environment. Understanding how our cats interact with their environment can help us create a space for owners and cats to mutually thrive ...

    Read More
  • Catnip: Why Cats Love It

    Few things stimulate a cat's pleasure faster than catnip. Exposure to this simple herb can reveal a new side to their feline personality. Many cats will go crazy at the smell of this plant. Catnip has a reputation of being a feline drug and many cat owners wonder if it is safe to give it to their pet. ...

    Read More
  • Zoonosis

    Zoonosis refers to diseases that can be transmitted to humans from animals. In particular, they occur when an infected animal passes on bacteria, parasites, fungi or viruses to humans through scratches, saliva, feces and urine. Vectors (e.g., organisms like fleas and ticks) can also carry zoonotic diseases ...

    Read More
  • Sugar Gliders

    Thinking of getting a sugar glider? These tiny marsupials are energetic and friendly, making them popular choices as pets. Though they weigh less than a half-pound, they're more closely related to kangaroos than they are flying squirrels. If you think a sugar glider would make an ideal pet for your family, ...

    Read More
  • Epilepsy

    Epilepsy (often referred to as a seizure disorder) is a chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. It is commonly controlled with medication, although surgical methods are used as well. Epileptic seizures are classified both by their patterns of activity in the brain ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup