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Senior Pets: What To Do As My Pet Gets Older

By David Loneragan | Dated August 30, 2020

As dogs and cats age they require more care and attention from their owner. Cats and small dogs are considered geriatric (senior) from the age of 7. Larger breed dogs are classed as geriatric from the age of 5 as they tend to have a shorter life span. It is often possible to keep your pet healthy well into their senior years by following the points below:

1. Regular Veterinary Check Ups

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When your pet becomes a senior, they should visit the vet twice a year for a check up. Your vet will perform a full physical examination and often do a blood test.

When your pet becomes a senior, they should visit the vet twice a year for a check up. Your vet will perform a full physical examination and often do a blood test. They will look for any changes since the last visit, such as weight loss / gain, new lumps or bumps and talk to you about how your pet has been at home. After all, the pet owner is the best guide for the vet about how healthy their animal is. They see them every day and are the first ones to notice any change in appetite, exercise, behaviour etc.

Similar to older people, senior pets are at an increased risk of diseases such as diabetes, endocrine, heart disease, cancer, senility and arthritis. Often these diseases do not show obvious symptoms in the early stages, but if your pet has a regular check up the disease will be found earlier and treatment can be more successful. Prevention is always better than cure! 

2. Feed a high quality diet

Good nutrition is important for dogs and cats of any age. The diet must be suitable for their age, health and lifestyle. Geriatric pets require foods that are easily digested and have different calorie levels and ingredients. For example, there are specific foods for pets with chronic diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis. Weight control is an important factor in selecting an appropriate diet for a senior pet. Many dogs become less active with age and are at risk of becoming overweight. This can lead to worsening arthritis, so weight control diets are readily available. Your vet will help you choose the best food for your pet based on their individual needs.

3. Good Dental Care

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Dental disease is a problem in pets of all ages but it worsens as a pet grows older. Proper dental care involves the vet assessing your pet’s dental health at their twice yearly check up.

Dental disease is a problem in pets of all ages but it worsens as a pet grows older. Veterinarians find evidence of dental disease in dogs and cats as young as 2 years of age and certain breeds develop more significant dental problems. The main problem with dental disease is the pain it causes. As it worsens it can also make the pet quite sick. Plaque and tartar build up on the teeth, leading to gingivitis (inflamed gums) and eventually bacteria can enter the bloodstream.

Proper dental care involves the vet assessing your pet’s dental health at their twice yearly check up. It is recommended that dogs and cats have a dental scale and polish every year to prevent more serious dental problems. The regular use of dental food / dental treats / home brushing are also helpful in minimising dental disease.

4. Exercise and Home Care

Even though older dogs might be slowing down, they do not need to spend their life lying around! Exercise is important for keeping your dog both physically and mentally healthy. It will help your dog stay lean and maintain healthy joints and muscles. However the exercise should be tailored to their individual requirements. Your dog may not be able to go on long walks, but regular, less strenuous walks are good.

Cats too can become less active as they age, sleeping more. This is fine as long as their food intake is adjusted accordingly so their weight remains stable. Geriatric pets with arthritis benefit from softer bedding or a special dog bed to make sleeping more comfortable. Carpet and rugs on the floor can help to prevent them slipping over. Also, providing a way for them to avoid having to use stairs or jump is helpful, such as a ramp.

 

Written by David Loneragan

David grew up and still lives locally and has worked at Gordon Vet since 1985. His love of animals and interest in all things veterinary started when he was a young boy spending time with his own pets and working on a country farm. David’s post-graduate studies have been in the fields of medical problems of dogs and cats and diagnostic ultrasound and radiology. In addition, he is interested in dermatology, cardiology and ophthalmology.

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Roopam Ghosh
Roopam Ghosh
10:49 25 Sep 20
Great service and very prompt with appointments. Lovely staff
Michelle Keir
Michelle Keir
08:30 01 Sep 20
Great service my dog loves going there! The staff are very caring and the vets very knowledgeable and do not over service.
Ayanthi Gooneratne
Ayanthi Gooneratne
06:22 24 Aug 20
The Vets are fantastic and so are the support staff. My dogs have been with Gorden Vets for over 10 years.
Steve Walker
Steve Walker
11:33 11 Aug 20
Helen was great. Took great care of our dog.
Eve Barratt
Eve Barratt
01:17 04 Aug 20
I took our little girl Coco for her very first vet visit yesterday. Dr Helen gave Coco a thoroughly check-up and provided me with useful information as the first time puppy owner. Coco is now enrolled in the puppy school and will return back for her 2nd vaccine in a couple of week!
Claire Turner
Claire Turner
05:21 19 Jul 20
Care & attention for your furry friends second to none.
Kimba
Kimba
02:50 09 Jul 20
Dr David and the team have provided real care, support and expertise for our furry family members over 25 years. They've also readily taken in injured wildlife. A great team of Vets and nurses - thanks for all you do!
Jayna Hirani
Jayna Hirani
03:43 09 Apr 20
Quality care and advice at every visit. The staff are friendly and informative and genuinely care about your pets. I am 100% confident that my cat and dog always receive the best pet healthcare and as pet parents that's all we want.
Marianne Broeng
Marianne Broeng
23:23 28 Jan 20
Gordon Vet has looked after my golden retriever since she was 9 weeks. Everyone has been amazing and caring with lots of experience. I have been able to ask any questions and always been welcome. Even one day when she stepped on a bee in the evening, they stayed open until we got there and helped her get it out. Thanks to all the staff :-)
Lizzie Wei
Lizzie Wei
00:56 18 Jan 20
We just moved to Gordon couple month ago and need to get my cat vaccinated. We found this hospital through google and I need to say they provide excellent service and very professional! The doctor really knows cat. Highly recommended!
Lara Bisley
Lara Bisley
08:15 27 Nov 19
Exceptional veterinary hospital. I have been taking my dog here for many years and although I now live in the Eastern Suburbs, I still drive across town to see the Vets at Gordon. The staff are highly skilled, compassionate, friendly and helpful. My 9 year old dog has had 2 knee operations (1 on each knee!) and the outcome of these surgeries far exceeded my expectations. I have been incredibly impressed with the care provided during all of our visits. I would highly recommend Gordon Vet Hospital.
Eugenie Goodyer
Eugenie Goodyer
23:22 21 Oct 19
Very friendly staff. Wonderful care for all our animals A++
Jennie Keogh
Jennie Keogh
06:36 21 Oct 19
Fantastic and friendly staff who you can tell really care about your pet. Their follow up service is also very reassuring. I also board my cat with Gordon Vet and I feel very comfortable to know he's in safe and caring hands. I'm so glad I found this clinic.
Newsha Amiri
Newsha Amiri
20:24 03 Oct 19
We took our dog there and Dr. David take care of his skin issues. he was so caring and professional.
Luxe Sydney Mum
Luxe Sydney Mum
06:37 02 Sep 19
Compassionate, caring and highly skilled veterinary surgeons who treat their patients and owners with respect. The nursing and administration staff are efficient and remember their patients by name which is a lovely touch. A lovely vet practice which despite our Golden Retriever Finn’s complex medical history, is always welcoming to him and he never displays any signs of anxiety when attending. Dr Helen is lovely and a firm favourite of ours!
Lihong Xing
Lihong Xing
05:00 05 Nov 18
Highly recommend Dr David, Scott, Helen, and Catherine, I've taken my cat to see all the doctors here.
Jeremy Tarbox
Jeremy Tarbox
22:55 10 Sep 18
We found a stray, agitated dog in front of our house last night. We phoned but got no help from the Council ranger who gave two options: tie him up in front yard overnight or "let him loose, he'll find his own way home" :( So we phoned Gordon Vet: they stayed open a few minutes so we could run him up and he could have a bed and dinner. Thank you Gordon Vet Hospital, hope he gets home soon!!! :)
Vishal Kapoor
Vishal Kapoor
01:52 04 Sep 18
Really amazing staff members. Their systems and processes are also very
Gerry Stevens
Gerry Stevens
11:01 14 Jul 18
Good competant vet. Did what I needed. Staff friendly. Cat's well.
Arezu A
Arezu A
03:20 15 Feb 18
Absolutely love the service here. I switched from other Vets to this Vet as the staff here are quite attentive and really care about your furry baby! I have basically seen most of the Dr's here and all of them so far have been fantastic, friendly and fun to speak with! Easy to locate and enough parking available! 5 Stars indeed!
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