Older animals: how to care for them when they get old

Diet and physical activity play an important role in an older animal’s quality of life. ©shutterstock_Olena Yakobchuk

With nearly 14 million cats and 8 million dogs in France, the word of the day is more than ever for protecting animals from abuse and abandonment. An increase in the strength of animal rights is also observed in the care provided by the veterinarian. Senior animals and related diseases are prime examples. Senior care, prevention and wellness visits are much more at this age. But when is an animal considered veteran?

Animals have their own life cycles, unlike humans.. At 7 years old, a large dog is already considered a senior. On the other hand, a cat will be considered aging from 8 years old. You need to know how to take this difference in age and lifespan into account and not wait for your animal to expire to consider it a senior. “The animals, despite being veteran, still have a few years ahead of them,” says Dr. Caroline Barnett. Being a veteran is not inevitable, you just have to adapt their lifestyle to their needs. “. A medicine of the age that should be heard more from its owners.

Health, sports, food… Enough to take care of our pets at any age. However, the lifestyle and habits of our dogs and cats tend to change with age. Less excursions, less energy or more fat are signs that your pet is aging and now needs to review its function. But what good practices should be adopted? For which animal and when? In short, how will you take care of your senior pet? All the answers are with Dr Caroline Barnett, veterinarian at Lagnieu in Ain.

Pets: features of old age

Our pets are no exception to this trend if aging and aging problems occur in humans. With the arrival of new drugs for dogs and cats, the life expectancy of our companions is only increasing, now raising the question of high-end support. But what is it to be a senior in an animal?

Signs of aging in a pet often show up as visible changes in movement, appetite and thirst, or weight. Explains Caroline Barnett. ” So a dog or cat will play less than before, be calmer, move less. Most often, weight gain is observed as their body is no longer able to assimilate food and converts it into fat. Similarly, the appetite may have increased or, on the contrary, decreased. “.

However, be careful not to automatically link these signals to older age. Other pathologies may indeed show similar symptoms. Therefore, it is best to consult a veterinarian to ensure that the animal is in good health.

Aging animals: when to consult?

As with any age, it is very important to actively monitor our pets, especially when we know that old age unfortunately leads to an increased risk of developing certain pathologies. “Remembers Dr. Caroline Barnett.

In some dog breeds (such as the Cavalier King Charles), osteoarthritis, locomotor problems and even heart problems are common pathologies associated with aging in animals. If it is fairly easy to detect, other pathologies such as kidney problems in cats or liver problems in dogs remain quieter. Detection of these later requires greater attention above all in the case of increased drinking.

Whatever the associated pathologies, it is imperative to consult a veterinarian in case of unusual signs or changes Caroline Barnett insists. ” Our animals’ health deteriorates very quickly, and emergency care allows us to take precautions or treat them as effectively as possible. Even if it doesn’t seem like anything to you, you shouldn’t sit idly by. Indeed, it is often difficult for a person to become aware of a concern, so many emotions change our judgment. “.

good practices to adopt

First of all, it is important to remember that the annual consultation with the veterinarian is a real plus. “says Dr. Caroline Barnett.” The senior animal is complex, not a simple car that breaks down. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to consult a veterinarian periodically. But what are other best practices that can help your pet age healthily?

As a general rule, we recommend, above all, that you engage in regular physical activity with your pet. However, the intensity of the effort must be adapted. Likewise, it is important to adapt your diet. “. A high-end diet will consist of less salt, minerals, protein, and fat. Goal? Adopt a formula designed to salvage specific organs.” Consult your veterinarian for advice on adopting a quality diet. Not All Brands Are Created Equal “.

Animal end-of-life: the problem of euthanasia

If an animal that has reached old age usually has a life expectancy of twice that age, it can sometimes quickly become a pathology, accident, or natural end of life. Then the difficult question of euthanasia arises.

There is no general rule to apply in case of euthanasia. Explains Caroline Barnett. ” Despite being a painful issue, the decision to euthanasia begins to emerge when attempts to relieve pain fail and the pain becomes severely disabling. “.

Consequently, euthanasia appears to be the last resort to take into account animal welfare when health conditions deteriorate sharply and pose a real ethical issue. ” We are not in favor of animal cruelty. If no other solution is possible, euthanasia will have the virtue of putting an end to irreversible suffering. “.


With an average of 40,000 dogs and cats being adopted annually in France, more than 7 out of 10 French people feel that animals are inadequately defended by various policies. A figure that coincides with the increasing number of associations dedicated to animal welfare.

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