Thursday, September 9, 2010

Caring for Senior Pets

From Dr. Sarah

A relationship with a companion animal can be one of the most rewarding experiences we humans encounter in our lifetimes. In the last 20 years, medical science has repeatedly shown that having a dog or cat in your life can result in health benefits for you, including improved, self-reported mental and physical health, and even fewer doctor visits compared to no-pet people. Additionally, caring for pets can help us to develop a greater sense of responsibility, elevate our own sense of self-worth and foster a mutually beneficial bond that enriches not only our lives but those of our pets, too.

If you have ever enjoyed the distinct pleasures of having a senior dog, you know that they tend to be well-behaved, without the boundless energy (and chew-everything tendencies) of puppies, which, quite frankly, can sometimes be exhausting. For these and many other reasons, senior dogs can make excellent companions for senior citizens.

So, who qualifies as a senior pet? While there is no hard and fast rule, most veterinarians agree that a senior canine is one in the last third of his or her life expectancy. Keep in mind that smaller breeds tend to live longer, meaning that they become seniors later in life than large or giant breeds. For example, the expected lifetime of Miniature Poodles is 18 years; therefore, they are designated as seniors at age 12. In contrast, the typical life expectancy of a Great Dane is around nine years, so they are considered seniors at age six! In general, cats begin to experience age-related physical changes from seven to ten years of age.

Many pet parents don’t know what to expect when their companion animals reach their senior years, or how to provide the best senior care for them. Additionally, some are misled by common misconceptions and anticipate that the later years are necessarily associated with infirmity. Fortunately, most health issues surrounding senior pets can be easily overcome, if you know what to look for and how to improve their quality of life.

In this video episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah reveals the secrets to the best care for both senior dogs and cats to ensure long-term health and longevity.

View the video.
View more videos by Dr. Sarah.
Exercise is so important to indoor pets.  View video of our cat, Squeek, playing with her ruggie.

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