Old Dog or Cat? Give them the Golden Age Treatment!

Thanks to modern vet medicine and better diets, our beloved fur-babies are living longer and happier lives. To help them in their ripe old age we have put together this handy guide to senior pets, full of advice and tips to support your pet’s health.

How old is your dog or cat in human years?

old age cat tips

It’s fascinating to figure out how old our faithful friends would be if they were human.

For cats, it’s quite straightforward with the following formula:

The first two years of a cat’s life are equivalent to 24 human years (because cats mature quicker than humans). Then every year after that is equivalent to 4 human years.

 So, a 2-year-old cat is 24 human years, and a 3-year-old cat is 28 human years.

At 10 years old they are 56 years of age

A 16-year-old cat would be equivalent to an 80-year-old human!

old age dog tips

It’s a bit more complicated in dogs, because there is a lot of breed variation – big and small, short and tall, all affects how long they live. If that wasn’t enough, the rate of ageing changes through life – bigger breeds mature slower than small breeds, but then they age more quickly! The Kennel Club has a list of breeds and ageing rates, but as a rule of thumb:

A 2-year-old small dog is roughly the same as 12.5 human years, 10.5 for a medium dog, and nine for large dogs. Then each additional year is equivalent to roughly 4 years for small dogs, 6 years for medium dogs, and 8 years for big dogs. Cross breeds live a bit longer than pure-breeds on average. There’s a handy calculator here 

 So a 2-year-old Great Dane is 9 human years, but a Jack Russell is already 12.5 years.

By the time they’re 5-years-old, the Great Dane is 45 years, but the Jack Russell is just 36!

 

How old do dogs and cats live?

Cats on average live 16-18 years, frequently living to 20 years old or more. The oldest recorded cat to have ever lived, Crème Puff, passed away in August 2005 at the golden age of 38 years and 3 days!

Dogs are a bit more complicated again, as different breeds have different life expectancies. As a general rule, smaller dogs live longer. The average lifespan of our gorgeous Great Dane is just a short 6-10 years, whereas our jumping Jack Russell is more likely be with us for 13-16 years! Farm life seems to suit dogs, with Bluey the Australian Cattle Dog being the oldest recorded dog at 29 years and five months of age.

senior dog and cat

Old dog and cat health

Our pets have the same age-related changes as we do, but unlike us they’re not able to say when they have back ache or need reading glasses. The signs of age-related diseases are hard to pick up, and early detection is key to helping our pets to keep feeling young at heart.

That’s why we’ve put together our Senior Wellness Check for dogs and cats over 8 years old! The consultation, blood test and urine test help to pick up the early stages of common age-related problems. We can check for diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, dental disease , under/over active thyroid, arthritis and heart disease, even before your pet is showing symptoms.

Often, our pets seem perfectly healthy at this stage, but this is the best time to make changes to keep them on the road to health. That’s why we recommend senior screening for all pets 8 years of age and over. The earlier we can detect disease or pain, the quicker we can treat your pet to keep them feeling forever young.

pet senior wellness

 

Old dog and cat problems

Just like us, old dogs and cats experience dulling of the senses of sight, hearing, smell and taste as they age. Their muscle mass decreases and they are prone to arthritis. They tend to groom less and be less active.  Like us, their brain can also age leading to dementia. Signs your dog or cat may need additional care include bad breath, shaking, stiffness, vocalising (barking, whining or mewing), change in behaviour (tiredness or restlessness), incontinence, change in appetite, drinking more, weight gain or weight loss, and an unkempt coat.

senior pet health problems

Old dog care

New tricks to help your best friend!

  • Grooming and nail care: as your dog ages it may find it harder to clean itself, and wear down long nails. Regular grooming and nail trimming can help keep their coat and nails in tip top condition.
  • Diet: feeding a senior diet will be more suited as an older dog’s gut is less able to digest protein and carbohydrate, and they need fewer calories. Keeping your dog a healthy weight is key to a healthy life.
  • Access: make sure your dog can easily reach food and water bowls by using a stand if they have a sore neck, and put in ramps to help them get up and down steps or the car if they’re finding it hard.
  • Vision: if your dog’s sight is failing then avoid moving the furniture around, as they are more likely to bump into objects.
  • Stimulate the mind: keeping their brain active with toys and puzzle feeders will help to reduce brain ageing.
  • Exercise: regular, shorter walks are good to keep the joints moving, but not overloaded.
  • Health checks: remember, it’s important to check for ‘hidden’ disease with our Senior Wellness Check.

Old cat care

Keeping your feline fit and fancy free!

  • Grooming: regular grooming is especially important in older and longer-haired cats, as they are more prone to hair balls.
  • Scratching mat: having a horizontal scratch surface is important as they can find upright posts harder to use. You may need to clip their nails as overgrowth is common.
  • Diet: feeding a senior diet will help to reduce the risk of kidney disease and help to keep your cat a healthy weight.
  • Access: cats like to be high up and have places to hide. Putting in ramps and steps to their favourite spots can help arthritic cats to reach their purrfect perch. Make sure their food and water is easy to reach. Extra litter trays can help if they are staying indoors more often, and make sure they have low sides so are easy to step in and out.
  • Soft spots: making sure your cat has extra snuggly bedding helps with sore joints and keeping warm and cosy.
  • Stimulate the mind: chasing games and puzzle feeders will help to keep their brain young and active.
  • Tender loving care: older cats can lose confidence and rely more on you for comfort. Hand feeding them warmed food, stroking while they eat, and increased contact with you can help your feline friend feel secure and loved.
  • Health checks: remember, it’s important to check for ‘hidden’ disease with our Senior Wellness Check.

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