As a veterinarian, I work with a number of rescue organizations, and am often shocked at the number of senior pets that are abandoned at shelters and rescue groups just because they are old! Age is not a disease! Age is a condition that we can prepare for and deal with as time passes.
My family and I had to say goodbye to 3 of our dogs over the past year and a half– all of them living past age 14. It is not fun to watch them get older, but there are a number of things that we can do to help our pets age gracefully, and to keep them healthier as they reach their golden years.
Remember, it’s not about “age,” which you can’t control-it’s all about always being in tune with your furry family member.
First, when is a dog considered a senior? For larger breeds of dogs, usually by 7 years of age, and for cats and smaller breeds of dogs at around 8 years of age. These ages are equivalent to us hitting our mid 50’s!
I recommend preventive medicine as a key to maintaining a pet’s longevity! Many diseases in their early stages are clinically undetectable to us. Some believe it may be an evolutionary “self preservation” phenomenon, as animals who displayed any outward signs of weakness or illness would be a target for a predator. And, unlike many of us, our pets don’t complain– life goes on! This is why it is essential to have your senior pets examined by your veterinarian annually for a physical examination, blood and urine testing. These tests can help identify problems early on, before they become clinically apparent, allowing us to begin preventive measures.
There are a number of diseases that can actually rob our pets of precious years, so prevention, early recognition, early treatment and lifestyle changes can possibly add years, and good quality, to their lives!