They say age is but a number, but as our furry friends grow older, it's inevitable that they may experience health issues along the way. In order to help us help them, Hill’s vet Dr Guy Fyvie answers some of our questions.
Q. At what age do pets become seniors?
A. In human terms, we are considered 'senior' when our body cannot compensate as well as it used to. The same can be said with dogs and cats, with them being considered senior at about the age of 7 years. Bigger dogs tend to be considered senior at the age of 5, and smaller dogs live a bit longer, but on average pets are considered senior at age 7.
Q. What are the most common health conditions affecting older pets? and is it true that these can be delayed or prevented with the right care?
A. As with humans, it is the stuff that degenerates. Things such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, heart and liver disease, diabetes and cancer. In cats, kidney disease is quite prevalent, and the older your pets get, the more they seem to experience some of these issues.
Q. Can we delay or prevent these health conditions with the right care, and what plays a major role in keeping them healthy?
A. Diet plays a role, it is one of most important things to consider. If you keep your pet's weight stable throughout their lives, from an early age, they will reap the benefits of this as they get older, as obesity often comes through when they are seniors. It is also important to look after their joints as they get older.
We know that pets become a part of the family, so keep an eye out for signs such as a change in eating or drinking habits, and also lumps and bumps, as catching a disease or ailment early on can prolong the quality and length of their lives. It is also important to keep taking them to vet for yearly checkups, and to keep vaccinating them to make sure their immune systems remain strong as they get older.
Dr Fyvie also answered a few of our viewers questions.