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Posted on 05-31-2017

Every pet owner wants their special furry friend to live forever, but unfortunately our pets age more rapidly than we do. With old age comes a host of potential health problems, many of which can be detected early with regular veterinary care.

How Often Does My Senior Pet Need An Exam?

Many people are under the impression that they should only go to the veterinarian’s office when there is an obvious problem. Did you know that once your pet is considered a “senior”, they should be seen by their doctor at least every six months? Understanding exactly how pets age makes it much easier to see why they need to be seen so often. In general, once a pet is 7 years of age (sometimes earlier for smaller breed dogs and cats) it is considered a senior or the equivalent of a 45-50 year old person. From the AVMA’s website, the chart below illustrates the human age equivalent of your pets.

Age: Human Equivalents for Older Pets

Cat years

Human years









Dog years

Human years (*dog size lbs)


Small – Medium: 44-47

Large – Very large: 50-56


Small – Medium: 56-60

Large – Very large: 66-78


Small – Medium: 76-83

Large – Very large: 93-115


Small – Medium: 96-105

Large: 120

*Small: 0-20 lbs; Medium: 21-50 lbs; Large: 51-90 lbs; Very large: >90 lbs
The oldest recorded age of a cat is 34 years. The oldest recorded age of a dog is 29 years.

Possible Age-Related Illnesses

Aging pets often suffer from similar ailments to their human counterparts. Some of the diseases commonly found in older pets include:

  • Senility
  • Weakness
  • Liver Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Urinary Tract Disease
  • Arthritis/Joint Disease
  • Dental Disease

During a physical exam, your veterinarian will check every part of your pet’s body. Many of the diseases listed can be detected during a physical exam, or with additional testing. Annual blood work is recommended for all pets 7 years of age and older to aid in the early detection of disease. Even if your pet isn’t actively sick, there could be warning signs of internal disease that aren’t obvious with just an exam.

Early Detection = Longer Life

We all can agree that we wish our pets could live longer. Routine visits and lab work are the key to increasing your time with your best pal. There are several options for early treatment and management of the diseases that plague our older pets. Things as simple as a change in diet or exercise regiment could make all the difference for them.

If you notice your pet drinking or urinating excessively, having difficulty jumping or stiffness when getting up, these could be signs of a more serious problem. Even if your pet simply isn’t acting normally, schedule a routine visit just to be certain that all is well.

For more tips and Frequently Asked Questions, check out the AVMA’s Caring for an Older Pet FAQ page.

What Tests Do My Senior Pets Need?

Every pet is different, as are their medical needs. At the minimum, your veterinarian will recommend annual blood work. Other tests that may be recommended include:

  • EKG – testing of the heart
  • Ultrasound
  • X-rays
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring
  • Ocular Diagnostics
  • Urinalysis
  • Fecal Testing

At Sugar House Veterinary Hospital, our veterinarians cater your pet’s care based on their age, breed, sex, and history.

S Mac said:

My buddy has been through deployments and is my best friend. He is a rescue and seems to be always getting a reason to show up at your clinic. That being said, Doc Seg and the rest of the crew continue to give me program ops to keep my friend with me longer. I am a believer in Sugarhouse Vet Clinic. My "dawg" is my best friend, He has kept me grounded after each deployment. I sincerely appreciate all SVC has done for me and my best bud. Keeping him active in his older years is a priority. Doc Seg ha been instrumental in keepin my buddy with me and I thank her. Matter of fact ...took off to be with him today after his latest "incident". I know ...I am a wuss when it comes to him. Thanks again for info and service. Super props to Doc Seg and the team.

2017-06-06 11:43:29

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