As the temperatures drop in Australia, now is the time to keep our senior pets warm and give them the best care available.

Veterinarian Dr Cathie Savage from Chatswood Vet Clinic, explains that just like people, many diseases become more common as our pets age.  As our pets mature they can develop a range of health issues. Dental health, arthritis and changing nutritional requirements are some of the most common issues we face in older pets. Dr Cathie shares her top 11 tips for looking after senior cats and dogs.

“As pets mature, changes in the kidneys, liver, heart and thyroid may also occur.  Initially, these changes may not show any visible symptoms.  Veterinarians can detect some of these changes through examinations combined with simple blood and urine tests.  Early detection and treatment can help your pet live a longer and happier life,” says Dr Cathie.

Dr Cathie’s 11 top tips for senior pets

  1. Tips for senior pets

    Dr Cathie Savage gives 13 year old Toby his 6 monthly check up

    Keep them warm, especially over winter, which may mean allowing them to sleep inside and on a warm comfortable bed overnight. This helps reduce the pain associated with arthritis.

  2. Spend more time grooming and cleaning as they groom less often and enjoy the contact.
  3. Make sure they have the opportunity to toilet regularly which for dogs may involve helping them to stand up and get outside and for cats providing more litter trays in convenient locations
  4. Make sure food and water are easily accessible, which may involve elevating the bowls
  5. If your pet’s vision is deteriorating do not move your furniture and furnishings. Vision-impaired pets are will quickly learn a safe route in and around your home without fear of knocks and bumps
  6. Dogs – for dogs that are less agile with arthritis, reduce slippery surface; and if possible provide ramps or alternatives to climbing steps for dogs. Ramps can be used to help dogs get into cars as well
  7. Dogs – Keep nails clipped to avoid overgrowth and slipping
  8. Cats – Provide ‘steps’ to help cats jump up onto and off their favourite spots
  9. Cats – Provide litter trays with low sides for easier access and keep the trays in a secluded place where they feel safe
  10. Cats – Keep claws clipped or provide a scratching post
  11. Have a regular 6 monthly checkup

6 monthly check-up for senior pets 

The 6 monthly check-up for senior pets at your local veterinary clinic should include the following:

  • Assessment of general health (teeth, eyes, ears, heart and lungs);
  • Assessment of quality of life by a combination of clinical examination and history about what your pet is doing and still able to do; and
  • Conducting blood and urine tests to detect early stages of diseases that may not be obvious from a physical examination and to assess whether it’s safe to start the pet on certain medications if necessary.