Ask Asheville’s Natural Vet: What’s Best for My Senior Dog or Cat?
Dr. Laurel Davis, Asheville’s natural vet, offers “Stories from a Holistic Veterinarian”, the blog of a holistic vet and “animal interpreter.” With a clinic in downtown Asheville, NC. Dr. Laurel also offers animal health, lifestyle and vaccination advice for cats, dogs and their human friends across the country.
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Dogs and cats age more swiftly than we do, and as they enter their senior years, you might start looking for ways to soothe their aching joints, increase their mobility, and ensure their lives remain filled with joy. At Sunvet Animal Wellness Clinic, we use holistic veterinary medicine to help your dogs and cats age gracefully and enjoy their senior years with comfort and support.
For this blog, I wanted to share some frequently asked questions I get from clients who are caring for older dogs and cats.
How old is a senior cat or dog?
The cornerstone of our Sunvet Animal Wellness mission statement is the idea that every animal is an individual being and deserves to be treated as such. Each cat or dog who comes into my clinic shows signs of aging differently and at different times in his or her life. However, as a general schedule, this is when I start recommending senior check-ins for my patients:
- Indoor or Outdoor Cats: 10 years old
- Toy/Small breed dogs: 10 years old
- Medium breed dogs: 9 years old
- Large breed dogs: 8 years old
- Giant Breed dogs: 6 years old
As a reference point, we often compare animal-years to human-years. You might have heard that our dogs and cats age 7 years for every human-year they live, but this reference point differs depending on who you ask and the size and species in question. If you’re interested in figuring out how old your dog or cat is in human-years, (or how old you are in cat years!) I recommend checking out this Age Calculator for Cats or this one for dogs.
What are the top physical concerns for senior cats and dogs?
- Arthritis and other musculoskeletal changes
- Plaque on teeth and gingivitis
- Decline in vision or hearing
- Doggie dementia
- Feline renal disease
What changes might people see in their dogs and cats that let them know it is time for a senior check-in?
You might notice physical and/or emotional changes in your furry friend that signify that they would benefit from a little TLC. Trust your intuition when it comes to this. If you notice that Simon seems to be feeling unlike his old self, don’t wait to take him into Asheville’s natural vet. You can read more about the age-related emotional changes in this blog, and here is a list of physical changes you might notice in your oldie goldie:
- Slowing down
- Limping and other signs of arthritis
- Nasty breath
- Lack of or decreased appetite
- Any sudden change in their health that is concerning
- Lumps or bumps that appear on their bodies
- Not seeing or hearing as well
- Coat becomes lackluster or greasier
- Withdrawn behavior
What does a senior check-in look like at Asheville’s natural vet?
Any visit to Sunvet starts with a warm and heartfelt greeting from our caring staff members, and if you’re new to the clinic, there is time for a slow meet and greet for your furry friend. Our vet tech will lead you and your dog or cat to a consult room equipped with a box of toys, water bowl, a container of freeze-dried meat treats, and a litter box, just in case. We have separate rooms for dogs and cats, and the animals seem to enjoy it that way!
I’ll come in, introduce myself, and perform a thorough and thoughtful physical exam, making sure your pup or kitty understands that we will work with him in a kind manner.
Tests and Checks
For seniors, I usually recommend we do some bloodwork and a urinalysis to take a scientific look at how his organs, thyroid glands, and urinary tract system are operating. Never fear, Sunvet staff are trained in low stress handling of your four-legged friend!
Next I’ll begin an energetic check-in with Applied Kinesiology to ask him how he is doing mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Together, we will come up with a treatment plan created with input from your cat or dog to help alleviate the discomfort he might be feeling. Some holistic modalities my clinic offers that many of my senior patients find helpful include nutritional counseling, chiropractic adjustments, cold laser therapy, acupuncture, Pranic Healing, and craniosacral therapy.
I hope this blog helps you to understand ways Sunvet Animal Wellness can be of service to you and your senior dogs and cats. It is truly an honor to work with animals as they enter their senior years, and we always strive to make each experience in our clinic meaningful and positive. Our patients appreciate it!
Dr. Laurel Davis is Asheville holistic veterinarian, offering phone and Skype consultations for animal lovers everywhere. Call 828-254-2221 or order an Ask Dr. Laurel™ phone or Skype session or bring your dog or cat to her downtown Asheville, NC clinic. Read more patient stories.
Get to know Dr. Laurel by reading her blog.
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