Caring For Your Senior Pet

Just like people, pets slow down and can become more fragile as they age. Most cats and dogs over the age of 7 are considered senior citizens and it’s important to be alert to any physical and behavioral changes that may occur. While you cannot stop the aging process, you can improve their quality of life and keep chronic conditions under control.

Listed below are the warning signs for 10 conditions commonly found in senior pets.

Dental disease – symptoms include bad breath, plaque, red/swollen gums, excessive drooling, pain or bleeding in the mouth while eating, decreased appetite, and loose or missing teeth.

Thyroid disease – symptoms of hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels) in dogs include weight gain, low activity levels, hair loss, sensitivity to cold temperatures, shivering and irritability. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism (high thyroid levels) in cats include weight loss despite increased appetite, vomiting, increased thirst and urination, frequent bowel movements, restlessness, rapid heartbeat, poor coat health, and irritability.

Tumors or cancer – tumors are usually categorized as unusual growths or abnormal lumps and bumps. Lumps that appear quickly and grow rapidly may also be tumors. These growths may be cancerous and require veterinary attention to determine the course of treatment.

Arthritis/orthopedic problems – symptoms include stiffness, lameness, difficulty rising from a resting position, reluctance to run and jump, lagging behind on walks, difficulty climbing stairs.

Obesity – an obvious weight gain and inability to move. Another symptom is the inability to sell-groom in the customary fashion.

Cognitive dysfunction – symptoms include reduced activity, confusion and disorientation, staring into space, less frequent interaction with the family, inability to recognize familiar people, abnormal sleep patterns, and loss of the ability to maintain housetraining function.

Diabetes – symptoms include increased food and water intake, increased urination, weight loss, dull coat and vomiting.

Renal or kidney disease – symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, bad breath, physical weakness, depression, increased thirst, excessive drinking, increased urination, and loss of weight, muscle and appetite.

Congestive heart failure – symptoms include difficulty breathing or excessive coughing, vomiting, weight loss, and intolerance for exercise.

Impairments to the eyes, ears or senses – symptoms include lack of response to commands they used to understand, bumping into things, and confusion about objects in the distance.

How to manage your pet’s aging process.

It is difficult to watch your pet get older. Many illnesses have similar symptoms and it can be confusing to try to figure out what is ailing your pet. Some illnesses could be fatal if left untreated while others are simply part of the aging process. It is important to be proactive in obtaining early detection, diagnosis and treatment in order to prolong your pet’s life while maintaining their dignity.  The following steps are recommended:

  1. Wellness examinations every six months. As you pet ages health problems can progress rapidly. Bi-annual veterinary visits increase the chance of early detection of illnesses. Identifying and treating a problem quickly can slow down the progression of the illness.
  2. Test blood and urine annually. This can help identify diseases in their earliest and most treatable stages.
  3. Obtain chest x-rays and an ECG every two years. These diagnostic tools help detect heart disease, lung disease, abnormal heartbeats, enlarged organs and cancer. All of these conditions will respond more positively to treatment in the early stages.
  4. Provide a proper diet and appropriate amounts of exercise. The metabolism of pets will slow as they age resulting in major shifts in their weight. Obesity increases the possibility of your pet developing diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and more. Moderate exercise helps to control weight and keeps muscles toned. Your pet may require lower calorie food or “senior” food. These options deliver the vitamins and dietary supplements that are important for the aging and/or overweight pet.





Caring For Your Senior Pet

Connecticut Humane Society

701 Russell Road, Newington, CT 06111
800-452-0114 | FAX 860-665-1478 
The Connecticut Humane Society is a 501(c)(3)
non-profit organization. EIN: 06-0667605
Copyright 2013 Connecticut Humane Society

Copyright 2013 Connecticut Humane Society