Ageing is something that everyone and every species deal with, and for the most part, the experience is the same across the board. The real difference comes from the fact that our pets don’t live nearly as long as we do, so they experience ageing at a more rapid pace than we do. For example, cats and small dogs are generally considered seniors by the age of 7 and larger dogs are considered to be seniors by the ripe age of 6.
As the title suggests, just because your pet is getting older does not mean that they are sick or diseased. They are still capable of doing the same things they always could. In fact, keeping your pets active as they age helps them age more gracefully. It also helps to maintain the bond that was built between pet and owner in their earlier stage of life. As pets age, their mobility can start to decline; however, with proper management, they should be able to stay comfortable and doing the things they enjoy.
Personally, my Mastiff was able to go for walks, although not as long and not as fast up until the final day she was with us. Walking was something she enjoyed and stopping to smell everything was something she got a taste for as she aged. She developed this habit when she was no longer able to do fast-paced walking as it was no longer comfortable for her. She was on daily pain medication for her arthritis as well as weekly acupuncture with our very own Dr.Wilson. It kept her comfortable and extended her quality of life up until her final day. Mobility is only one of the common things we see with ageing pets. However, it is crucial to the quality of life for our furry friends and requires us as owners to be aware of their changes. It is important for owners to be willing to seek help from our veterinarians to keep their pets comfortable.
There are many signs that our pets can give us to let us know when changes are happening to them. Some of which are subtle like changes in their sleeping pattern or repetitive behaviour. Other signs are more dramatic and may catch your attention, such as house soiling or becoming irritable. All of these (and many more) are signs of ageing, and your pet would probably benefit from a trip to the veterinary clinic. As pets age changes can happen faster than they would have when they were younger, we always recommend that our senior pets come in every 6 months for an exam. This way, we are able to monitor the changes in your pet and stay on top of any medical intervention they may need in order to keep them healthy and extend their quality of life. With the proper care, your pet can age comfortably and gracefully and continue to fill your life with the same joy they did when they were younger.
Written by: Carlie Brown, RVT