Aging pets need much the same care regimes as elderly people.
Aging pets need much the same care regimes as elderly people. Glenda Powers

Learning to care for 'senior' pets

A LEADING Australian vet is warning pet owners to be aware of the requirements elderly pets may need as they grow into their golden years.

Mark Perissinotto, head vet at, said knowledge and research had ensured advancements in veterinary care over recent years and our beloved pets were now living longer than ever before, although not all owners actually knew when their pet was to be considered "senior".

"Most owners are unaware of what is to be considered an animal's senior years," Dr Perissinotto said..

"Cats, for example, tend to outlive dogs and smaller breeds of dogs outlive larger dogs.

"In some cases, larger breeds of dogs can be categorised as senior at just five years old. This is why it's important for owners to take into account the average lifespan of an animal before they decide to bring them home."

Dr Perissinotto said one of the most common daily struggles for aging pets was learning to cope with pain as pet owners could often be completely unaware of the discomfort their pet was feeling.

"Pain can either be acute or chronic," he said.

"Acute pain comes on suddenly, usually associated with injury, while chronic pain builds up slowly.

"To avoid both, owners need to make sure their pet remains active as it grows older and continues to get plenty of exercise."

Regular veterinary examinations are extremely important as your pet ages as vet checks can be the best way to find problems before they arise.

"Vet examinations are vital in catching old age-related diseases in their early stages," Dr Perissinotto said.

"A vet check at least once every six months is the best way to ensure your pet isn't silently suffering."

To ensure owners and animals grow older together, owners need to be sure to keep an especially close eye to changes and possible signs of problems.

These include:

  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Increased appetite
  • Constipation or diarrhoea for more than three days
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Open sores for more than one week
  • Mouth odours
  • Increased abdominal size
  • Excessive panting
  • Persistent coughing

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