Getting older is inevitable for everyone, including our beloved pets. When does a pet become “old”? That depends on whether you are a cat or a dog, and what size of dog makes a difference as well. In general, cats and small dogs are generally considered geriatric at the age of 7, whereas larger breed dogs are considered geriatric when they are about 6 years old. There are many human-dog/cat equivalent age charts out there for people to look up how old there pet is in human years. The chart below is form the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) and can be used as a guide for how old your pet is related to us.
Age: Human Equivalents for Older Pets
Cat years Human years
Dog years Human years (*dog size lbs)
7 Small – Medium: 44-47
Large-Very large: 50-56
10 Small – Medium: 56-60
Large – Very large: 66-78
15 Small – Medium: 76-83
Large – Very large: 93-115
20 Small – Medium: 96-105
*Small: 0-20 lbs; Medium: 21-50 lbs; Large: 51-90 lbs; Very large: >90 lbs
Now that we have an idea of how old our pet is, we have to consider what kind of diseases they may get as they age.
Here is a short list of some common conditions that may affect our aging pets:
* Heart disease
* Kidney disease
* Liver disease
* Changes in vision/hearing
* Arthritis/Mobility impairment
* Diabetes or other hormonal diseases (hypertyroid, hypothyroid, cushings…)
* Senior cognitive dysfunction/senility
* Dental disease
As our pet’s age it is important to monitor their activity, appetite, thirst, behavior and watch for any changes or unusual signs that may indicate that something is going on. Just like people, dogs and cats are individual in how they age so not every dog will act a certain way once they reach a certain age. Think about how much personality affects what our pet’s do and how they respond to changes, whether it be environmental changes or changes with their health.
Here are some important tips to keep your pet healthy well into their golden years:
* Feed a good quality diet
* Get regular exercise
* Keep your pet clean and groomed, including dental health
* More frequent visits to your regular veterinarian in order to monitor for disease or get support for current ailments
* And most important, love them and spend quality time with them because that love and attention can improve their quality of life, as well as yours.