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Old pets and new tricks

Senior pet care

I’d like to welcome you to our first Beech House blog post! I’m excited to be able to talk about healthcare for your pets and our practice in this new way.

Until the end of January we are concentrating on senior pet healthcare at Beech House, which also happens to be one of my personal passions. Below is further information about what we recommend as our patients become older.

At what age is a pet considered senior?

We start to think of a pet as reaching their senior years around age 7. It is a common myth that there are 7 animal years to every human year, and there is considerable breed variation in dogs too. Below is a table from the American Veterinary Medicine Association which gives a rough guide of dog and cat ages converted to human years. 

Cat Years  Human Years 
7 54
10 63
15 78
20 97
Dog Years Human Years(small to very large dogs*)
7 44 to 56
10 56 to 78
15 76 to 155
20 96 to 120

Age: Estimated Human Equivalent for Older Pets
*Small: 0-20 lbs; Medium: 21-50 lbs; Large: 51-90 lbs; Very Large: >90 lbs

What are the common illnesses seen in senior pets?

  • Chronic Kidney disease
  • Senility or cognitive dysfunction
  • Dental disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure or hypertension
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Diabetes


What are the common illnesses seen in senior pets?

It is important to look out for changes in behaviour such as ‘slowing down’, being more subdued or forgetting learned behaviours such as commands, where to toilet and familiar people or places. Any changes in appetite or thirst or weight loss can be a sign of an underlying condition. Osteoarthritis can be evident in stiffness, especially after lying, a reluctance to exercise or even a change in the way your pet walks.

Often however in the early stages there can be no signs of illness, changes may be subtle or not evident at all. We especially know that cats are incredibly good at masking signs of change, and our older pets need more rest so it can be difficult to tell signs of a disease process from aging.

Why is screening recommended?

There is so much we can do and offer as your pet ages to help them live longer and more comfortable lives. Screening includes a full examination, blood test, urine screen and blood pressure monitoring which gives us valuable information about the health of your pet. If we find conditions early, before your cat or dog is showing signs of aging or illness that is the best time to implement changes. Sometimes a prescription food, or change to routine such as increasing water intake, or supplements or medicines can make all the difference to your pet, and they are much more likely to accept a change before they start to feel the effects of a disease or aging process. As diseases advance we can also offer advice, support, medication, pain relief and procedures such as dentistry which can give your pets a new lease of life.

If you are interested in senior health screening for your pet, please contact us at the clinic and we can provide further details.