Lifestages in small domestic animals bring about characteristic behavior and health related changes. Cats and small to medium dogs between 7 and 12 years of age are considered “Mature to Senior Adults”, and large to giant breed dogs are mature adults between 5 and 8 years of age. “Geriatric” animals are older than the aforementioned ages. The stages are as follows: 0 to 1 year of age is puppy or kittenhood, 1-2 years of age is adolescent, 2 to 7 is adulthood, 7 to 10 is older adulthood, 10 to 12 is senior adulthood, and each year thereafter has its own subset of behavioral and health related changes. At two years of age, animals that were anxious may get better or worse. Animals that have had skin problems prior to two years of age many times will not have them after two, as their immune systems bolster against the offending antigens or allergens. Some, of course, worsen. Developmentally, a pet between 2 and 7 is in the prime of their lives. Unfortunately, orthopedic injuries occur often in this age group due to an overzealous owner or pet during play or exercise. At 7 years old, more often in dogs than cats, it is often said that “Dogs get bitchy, and bitches get doggy”, meaning male dogs get more grumpy, and females get less energetic. Cats in general get more relaxed after 7, and sometimes more grumpy at 10. Cats over 13 tend to show signs of cognitive disorder, and their routines alter. Litter box habits, sleep habits, grooming habits, and attention requirements all tend to change between the 13th and 14th year. After 14 years of age, all domestic animals tend to have mental degenerative changes in behavior similar to Alzheimers disease or dimensia in humans. Older animals take a significant time commitment from their owners, and sometimes a financial commitment to stay ontop of health issues that arise. Age is not a disease, but along with age comes an onset of more disease. At Brandon Lakes Animal Hospital, both Dr Woodside and Dr Heppner enjoy seeing and helping older pets and employ Eastern medicine acupuncture and herbs, along with cutting edge class 4 laser therapy to improve the lives of our furry best friends. I will continue to blog on this topic so stay tuned!
Mar 27 2014