A pet may be considered a senior citizen as early as 5 years of age if it is a large-breed dog or as late as 10 years of age if it is a small-breed dog or a cat. It is important to remember that aging is not a disease in itself; it is simply a stage of life. There are a few known factors that influence the rate of aging in pets which include: body weight, environment, genetics, nutrition, and the degree of healthcare provided throughout a pet’s life.
As pets move into the senior phase of life they experience gradual changes that are similar to humans when we age: their fur turns grey, their bodies are not as flexible as they used to be, their reflexes are not as sharp as they once were, their hearing, eyesight, and sense of smell may deteriorate, and their energy levels as well as attention spans, seem to diminish. The first signs of aging are often a general decrease in activity combined with a tendency to sleep longer.
Unfortunately, most pets don’t show signs of illnesses until late in the disease process, making treatment potentially less successful and more extensive. The best way to maintain a pet’s optimum health is through regular wellness examinations, preventive healthcare, appropriate exercise, and proper nutritional support. Knowing and catching the early signs of illness may add years to your pet’s life.
Pets experience pain just like humans do. The different types of pain include acute pain, which comes on suddenly as a result of injury, surgery or an infection, and chronic pain, which is long lasting and usually develops slowly such as arthritis. Be sure to monitor behavior and physical conditions and report anything unusual to your veterinarian.