Senior Dog Wellness

Caring For Your Senior Dog

Like people, pets are living longer. That is good news! We all value the companionship we share with our pets. Nothing helps that friendship more than working with us to help maintain your pets' health and quality of life. As your pet ages, changes in its behavior and physical condition will occur. This is the time to start on a senior health maintenance program to provide optimal care for your older pet.

The aging process varies between species and between individuals. Middle age in humans is defined as 45-59 years, "elderly" 60-75 years, and "aged" is the term applied to individuals greater than 75 years. In animals, we usually start to talk about senior care during the last 25-40% of the expected life span. In reality, old age is not just a chronological measurement of years lived; rather it is a measurement of the function of our body systems subsequent to the effects of aging. Aging can be affected by a number of variables including genetics, nutrition, and environment.

For practical purposes, we start to consider dogs that are over the age of 7 as being "senior". In general, small dogs (less than 20 pounds), tend to have longer life expectancies than medium to large breeds of dogs. A comparative chart shown below can help you relate your age to that of your pets.

Comparative Ages of Dogs and Humans



1 year

15 years

2 years

24 years

4 years

32 years

7 years

45 years

10 years

56 years

15 years

76 years

20 years

98 years

"The good news is that many of these conditions can be controlled or prevented with early detection and treatment. This is where you can make a big difference by bringing in your pet for Sr. Wellness Exams"

How Our Senior Wellness Program Can Help

Routine Physical Exam

The most important way to help your senior canine stay well is for us to do a thorough physical exam on a routine basis.

While an annual exam suffices for younger pets, your older pet should be seen at least every six months (realize six months for a dog equals 2 to 3 yeas in the life of a human). Special attention will be paid to your pets teeth and gums, skin and coat, heart, lungs, kidneys, digestive system, eyes and joints.

Routine Non-Invasive Testing

We may also perform several non-invasive tests and procedures on a regular basis.

Along with a detailed medical history and a thorough physical examination, we may order a diagnostic blood panel. This may include blood tests, urinalysis, x-rays, EKG and blood pressure measurement (just as is done in routine health examinations in people).

The 25 Diagnostic Tests Check For:

  • Anemia
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Infection
  • Inflamation
  • Diseases of the heart, intestines, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and thyroid

These tests help us in two ways. First, we can identify early-stage disease when control or even prevention is possible. Second, the tests will provide a yardstick with which we can measure changes should your cat become ill in the future

Proper Diet and Environment

A proper diet and environment are critical for your dog's health and comfort. We are experts on the special needs of senior canines and will always be happy to help advise you. Some senior friendly modifications our hospital team might help you with are:

  • Recommendations on a palatable, highly digestible diet with the proper balance of calories and nutrients (based on your dog's specific needs)
  • A comfortable, heated bed
  • Extra assistance with routine grooming

Pain Management

As the aging process continues, you may also need to consult with us about such things as pain management. Arthritis is a very common disorder in older pets. Newer medications are available that are both safe and effective.

To keep your adult pets healthy, we recommend our senior cats and senior dogs come in for regular check ups every six months.

Remember: Six months to your pet is like 2 to 3 human years.

Benefits »

  • Early Detection
  • Early Treatment

The goal of senior care is simple.
We want to help you maintain the highest quality of life for your pet. Together, we can help make the senior years the most rewarding for you and your pet to share.

What signs should we look for in our senior dog?

Any unusual symptoms should be brought to our attention as soon as possible. These may include:

  • Decreases in vision or hearing
  • Lumps or growths
  • Change in water consumption (watch carefully for ran increase in volume)
  • Change in appetite or consumption
  • Lethargy or depression (listless behavior)
  • Constipation
  • Change in attitude (irritability)
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Bad breath
  • Stiffness, trouble jumping
  • Confusion, Disorientation
  • Loss of house-training
  • Change in sleep/wake cycle
  • Decreased interest in you or their environment

Observe Your Pets For Any Changes

Finally, your careful observations will assist our hospital greatly in giving your older dog the care they need. As always, if you are concerned about any symptom your dog is showing, please do not hesitate to call our office.

Content used with permission; based on material provided by: Antec Laboratories

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