Senior Pet Care - Furry Friend Friday

It's time for Furry Friend Friday, presented by West Coast Animal Hospital.

I'm Alex Steiniger, our pets age just like the rest of the family. And Dr. Megan Gibbings of West Coast Animal Hospital is here to discuss what we need to know to take care of our senior pets. It's great to see you again, doctor. One of the common concerns pet owners have is how to care for their aging cat or dog.

What can you tell us about our senior pets?

One of the truths we know as pet owners is that our cats and dogs age much faster than people do. In humans, we consider their senior years to start around age 60. For most dogs and cats, we consider them to be seniors starting around seven to 10 years old. As pets age, there can be certain health problems that start to emerge. Even seemingly healthy dogs and cats can have underlying diseases. There was a large national study that was done that found that one in five senior dogs and cats had abnormal findings on routine lab work. With early detection of these problems, we can help enhance the quality of life of our pets as they age.

What are some common conditions that you see reoccurring in senior pets?

One of the most common problems we see actually occurs in senior dogs and starts around this time of year. In the winter months, as the weather gets a little bit colder, their joints get stiff and achy, and we see dogs present with signs of arthritis. Other conditions that start to affect our senior pets include kidney disease, thyroid problems, heart disease, and even cancer. When we can get on these problems sooner, we can help manage our pets and have better outcomes for them as they age.

If somebody has a senior pet, what would you say is the top recommendation, or a couple that you would have for them for their senior pet?

My recommendation for all senior pets is to have routine vet visits. We like to see senior dogs and cats once or even twice a year for a physical exam. We may also recommend doing some lab testing at that time, or even imaging like x-ray and ultrasound. There's also a new blood test available that can detect cancer in dogs. So if you have a senior pet and they haven't been to the vet in a while, I recommend scheduling a senior wellness checkup for them with your veterinarian today.

Such important information, Dr. Gibbings. Thank you for being here. Let West Coast Animal Hospital take the stress out of going to the vet. Call 619-431-1423, or you can visit to receive top-quality care for your pets.