Healthcare, support and guidance for your elderly pet
Healthcare, support and guidance for your elderly pet
GERIATRIC CARE

Healthcare, support and guidance for your elderly pet

Our pets are considered part of our family, and with better nutrition, veterinary and home care, they are living longer and healthier lives. And we want them to remain age-healthy and as comfortable as possible in their twilight years.

Veterinary geriatrics is a developing field of general veterinary medicine concerned with the preventative, clinical and therapeutic aspects of illness in elderly pets. It recognises and addresses the challenges and skills required to maintain pet health in the face of frailty, multiple diseases and conditions (comorbidities) with their varied presentations, and varied treatment responses. Treatment of geriatric pets is furthermore challenged by difficulties in medicating some pets, and in transporting nervous or arthritic pets to a clinic. A home visit can improve the quality of life of many geriatric pets that otherwise may not receive veterinary care.

Ageing is a natural process and not a disease. However, the senior and geriatric pet is prone to develop age-related diseases and conditions. Many of these have outward symptoms that are quite easy to recognise once established, such as stiffness and reduced mobility, hearing loss, reduced vision, appetite changes, weight loss or gain, increased thirst and behavioural changes. However these symptoms often go unnoticed in their early stages as they develop gradually and progress slowly. Also, many conditions occur internally and may be unrecognisable to even the most observant pet owner. For example, diseases of the heart and other internal organs can develop without owner awareness.

Many of these problems can be treated or managed, and if detected early can make a very significant difference to your pet’s quality of life. As can simple home adaptations, such as using pet step aids, carpet runners and repositioning resources (food, water, litter trays and bed/resting area).

Senior and geriatric health screening programs involve a detailed consultation, a thorough physical examination and further tests as indicated, such as blood tests, urinalysis and blood pressure measurements.

At what age is my cat and dog senior or geriatric?

The commonly held belief that every 'cat or dog year' is worth seven 'human years' is not entirely accurate.

Dog to human-age equivalent varies with breed size. Small breeds reach senior age at 10 years, whilst large breeds can be classified as senior from 7 to 9 years of age.

Cats can be regarded as senior from 11 years old and geriatric from 15 years of age.

LIFE STAGE AGE OF CAT HUMAN EQUIVALENT
Mature 7 years - 10 years 7 44
8 48
9 52
10 56
Senior 11 years - 14 years 11 60
12 64
13 68
14 72
Geriatric 15 years + 15 76
16 80
17 84
18 88
19 92
20 96
21 100