Senior Care

Frequently Asked Questions About Senior Pets:

Thanks to many medical advances, and improved pet care, our pets are living longer than ever before! As our pets age, different ailments can affect their quality of life. which we can help alleviate to make them more comfortable.

When are our pets considered senior? Smaller breed dogs generally live longer than the larger breeds and cats tend to be with us longer than dogs. Here is a brief breakdown.

Dog Years to Human Years Comparison

  • 7   dog yrs sm/ med - 44-47 human yrs
                             lg/ very large - 50-56 human yrs
  • 10 dog yrs sm/ med - 56-60 human yrs
                             lg/ very lg - 66-78 human yrs
  • 18 dog yrs sm/ med - 76-83 human yrs
                       lg/ very lg - 93-115 human yrs
  • 20 dog yrs sm/ med 96 - 56-105 human yrs
                       lg  - 120 human yrs

Cat Years to Human Years Comparison

  • 7    cat yrs - 45 human years
  • 10  cat yrs - 58 human years
  • 18  cat yrs - 78 human years
  • 20  cat yrs - 98 human years 

What kind of health issues may my older pet have? Older pets can have many of the same problems we see in older people including:

  • Kidney and Liver disease 
  • Diabetes 
  • Senility 
  • Arthritis and Weakness 
  • Cancer 
Senior Considerations

Veterinary Exams: Once a senior, twice yearly exams are more important that ever!  Catching and delaying the onset and progression of medical issues is the best way to keep your pet in their best health!

Laboratory Testing: When your pet reaches their senior years, routine blood testing is recommended. Normal results provide a “baseline”  for future comparison and subtle changes in blood work in the “outwardly healthy” patient may signal the presence of underlying disease and treatment can be started sooner.

Recommended blood testing includes a CBC (complete blood count), blood chemistry panel, and in some cases a thyroid panel. Additional tests such as an urinalysis may also be suggested.

Nutrition: Since older pets have different nutritional requirements, they may benefit from diets made specifically for older bodies. These diets pay special attention to weight control and reduce consumption of nutrients that are risk factors for the development of diseases, as well as organ or age related changes.

Exercise: We want to keep our pets physically and mentally active.  You can adjust the amount and form of exercise your pet does based on their health.

Some warning signs to watch for in senior pets:
  • Bad Breath 
  • Increased thirst and/ or urination 
  • Changes in eating habits and/ or weight loss or gain 
  • Weakness/ lameness/stiffness 
  • Coughing/ exercise intolerance 
  • Vomiting/ diarrhea 
Dental cleanings: Why Anesthesia? During a professional dental cleaning, scaling the tooth surface both above and below the gingival margin (gum line) with an ultrasonic scaler, followed by dental polishing, is accomplished. The most critical part of a dental cleaning is scaling the tooth surfaces that are inside the gingival pocket (the space between the gum and the root), where periodontal disease is active. Access to this area of every tooth is impossible in a patient who is not under anesthesia. Removal of dental tartar on only the visible surface of the teeth has little effect on a pet's oral health and provides a false sense of accomplishment. The effect is purely cosmetic. In addition, anesthetized patients have an endotracheal (breathing) tube in place to prevent aspiration of material into the lungs and airway. This is important to prevent additional disease.
176 River Road Andover, MA 01810
American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC)

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