Posted on 24 May 2013 in Cats, Dogs, Senior Pets

Looking After Our Senior Pets

As our pets grow older, and begin to slow down, to play less or stiffen up, they need your help and understanding. Your friend relies on you to take care of every aspect of their care.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition, in association with participating veterinary hospitals (including All Pets Veterinary Hospital), is offering $20 off a senior screening consultation and $15 off your purchase of Hill’s™ Senior food to the first 2,000 pet owners to register before 30/8/13. If you have a senior dog or cat and would like to take advantage of this great offer, visit the website: to get your voucher, then call us to make an appointment for your pet’s senior health check!

Your pet may still behave like a puppy or kitten and look like a youngster, but after their 7th birthday (or 5th birthday for dogs >25kg)  cats and dogs enter their senior years, the equivalent in human terms of entering your 50’s.

The nutritional and physical needs of pets change as they enter their senior years, and the feeding and exercise routines you’ve been using may no longer be appropriate. As cats and dogs get older, they are at increased risk for certain age-related disorders, and should receive more frequent veterinary check-ups.

There are a number of diseases that are more common as dogs age, these include:

 Cancer, Heart Disease, Kidney Disease, Dementia, Diabetes, Osteoarthritis, Dental Disease, Skin Disease, Obesity.

Some signs to look out for that might indicate a problem in dogs include:

  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Increased drinking and/or urinating
  • Reduced activity and lower exercise tolerance
  • Reduced appetite   
  • Reduced sense of smell, hearing loss, poor vision
  • Decreased playfulness and decreased agility
  • Difficulty chewing or bad breath
  • Poor digestion and digestive upsets
  • Brittle nails, poor coat
  • Loose skin/loss of muscle mass
  • Behavioural changes, including less human interaction, confusion and disorientation, loss of toilet training and disrupted sleep/wake patterns

There are also a number of diseases that become more common as cats age, these include:

Cancer, Heart Disease, Kidney Disease, Diabetes, Arthritis, Urinary Disease, Dental Disease, Behavioural and Neurological Diseases, Skin Disease

Some signs to look out for that might indicate a problem in cats include:

  • Weight gain or loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Reduced activity and exercise
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination and/or accidents outside the litter tray
  • Decreased agility
  • Poor digestion and digestive upsets
  • Poor grooming
  • Loose skin/loss of muscle mass
  • Behavioural changes: irritability, less human interaction, confusion and decreased playfulness.

The good news is that the earlier these age-related diseases are detected, the better the chances of you and your vet managing them successfully.

Nutrition for your Senior Pet

The food your pet eats plays an important part in his or her overall health and well-being. A nutritious, complete and balanced diet is an essential part of an active, healthy lifestyle for any aged dog or cat, but becomes even more significant for senior pets.

Nutritional needs may change or fluctuate upon reaching senior status, and it’s important to take this into account when selecting your pet’s diet.

Nutritional Goals in the older pet are to:

  • Maintain ideal body condition and body weight
  • Minimise disease risk
  • Disease management - reduce signs and/or slow disease progression
  • Improve the quality and longevity of life

Hill's understands that the dietary requirements of senior pets differ from those of young and middle aged pets. Older animals may be less able to cope with nutrient excesses or deficiencies, or changes in nutrient intake and quality. Therefore, foods for mature dogs and cats should meet daily nutrient allowances strictly and consistently. We can improve the quality, and possibly the length of life of older animals through life-long proper nutritional management. Your vet can advise you on the most appropriate senior diet for your pet.

So if you have a senior pet, take this opportunity to bring your pet in for a check-up at All Pets Veterinary Hospital to ensure that they are getting the best possible care, and help make your companion’s ageing a comforting and rewarding experience for you both!

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