Senior Pets

When animals get old they are very much like humans that are geriatric. Pets that are dealing with old age often times are prone to serious disease, arthritis, and orthopedic problems. We care for animals, and will do our best to care for any elderly pets that are in need.

Aging in dogs covers the impact of aging in the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), common medical and clinical issues arising, and life expectancy. Older dogs, often grow grey hairs on their muzzles; some dogs go grey all over. As with humans, advanced years often bring changes in a dog’s ability to hear, see and move about easily. Skin condition, appetite and energy levels often degrade with geriatric age, and medical conditions such as cancer, renal failure, arthritis and joint conditions, and other signs of old age may appear. The changes in care often required by an older dog may lead a non-experienced owner to release the animal to a shelter or rescue organization. Non-profit groups have sprung up in response to the growing need for senior dog rescue. The aging profile of dogs varies according to their adult size (often determined by their breed): smaller dogs often live over 15–16 years, medium and large size dogs typically 10 to 13 years, and some giant dog breeds such as mastiffs, often only 7 to 8 years. The latter also mature slightly older than smaller breeds—giant breeds becoming adult around two years old compared to the norm of around 12–15 months for other breeds.

The life expectancy of a cat is typically 15–17 years. However, some cats that are kept indoors may attain the age of 21 years or more. By comparison, the average life expectancy of humans at birth is 67.2 years. A one-year-old cat is roughly comparable, in developmental terms, to a 15-year-old-human. Subsequent years of a cat’s life add progressively fewer years to its human age equivalent, so that a 15-year old cat is roughly comparable, developmentally, to a 76-year-old human. The table below shows the correspondence between a cat’s chronological age and the age of a human at a comparable stage of development. The oldest cat ever recorded was Creme Puff, who died in 2005, having attained the age of 38 years, 3 days (equivalent to the human age of 168 years).

Aging in rabbits can bring on changes in body condition and behavior. It is a good idea to bring your rabbit to a rabbit-savvy veterinarian every 6 months to catch any sicknesses or medical conditions early on for effective treatment. Your veterinarian may also recommend annual blood work or urinalysis as necessary.

Hamsters have an average lifespan of 2 to 3 years. This means that when a hamster is aged 15 to 18 months, he is considered to be middle-aged. A hamster who is over the age of 2 is considered to be a senior hamster. Senior hamsters are more susceptible to illness than younger hamsters. Keeping his living area clean is always important and a key to maintaining good health, but as your hamster ages it becomes even more crucial to make sure you clean his cage at least once per week. Instead of doing a thorough disinfecting and washing of your pet’s cage once a month, you might want to consider doing it every 2 or 3 weeks in order to prevent disease-causing organisms from reaching a critical level. As your hamster gets older, you might notice changes in activity levels and behaviour. This is normal and not a cause for concern unless you notice other signs of illness or that your pet is in pain. If you notice that your senior pet is ill, notify your vet right away. Older hamsters can develop painful joints as they age. If it seems like your pet is having difficulty moving, make sure that you remove anything from the living area that might be used for climbing, as this might be frustrating for your pet. Cataracts can develop in some older hamsters, and this will cause the eye to look milky. Eventually it can cause blindness, but this does not need to affect the hamster’s quality of life, and most hamsters do not seem to be discouraged by this development. (Hamsters are extremely nearsighted anyway and can only see for a few inches in front of them, even when they are younger.) Older hamsters can develop problems with their teeth, which can interfere with eating.

As guinea pigs age they become very content with their routine and comfortable with each other and you. Seniors often mellow with time and are better behaved. Cavies live 5-8 years so for the sake of this article, we’ll consider a pig past the age of 5 will qualify for their “senior citizen card.” Sadly, many seniors are overlooked for adoption. What’s worse are the families that abandoned their seniors during a phase of the cavy’s life when they need them the most. Luckily, some families love the benefits of having a senior share their home. Adoptive families that accept seniors value these special companions despite knowing their time together is short.

Ferrets remain playful throughout their lives so you may not always notice signs that indicate your ferret is aging. Preventative health care is important in keeping the older ferret active and feeling good. Certain diseases are more common as the ferret matures and being aware of the clinical signs associated with these diseases is a first step in early recognition. The average life span for the domestic ferret is five to eight years. Veterinarians consider a ferret to be middle-aged at three years and senior at five or more years of age. To gain perspective on their life span, each year of a ferret’s life is approximately equal to 10 to 14 years of a human’s life. As a result, health changes can occur quickly as your ferret ages. All ferrets should have a yearly physical examination. After the age of three, annual blood work can help your veterinarian detect changes in function of the liver, pancreas, kidneys and other organs. After the age of five, a veterinary examination, including blood profile and urine exam, should be scheduled every 6 months along with annual x-rays to monitor changes in size and shape of the heart and other organs. The focus of the exams is to ensure your ferret’s health, develop a plan for preventing future health problems and follow up on any previous health issues. In addition to the yearly examinations and work-ups, your ferret should be seen immediately for any signs of illness such as vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, difficult breathing or excessive lethargy.