What is the average life span of a pet?
About 12 yrs for dogs, but medium breeds live longer than the giant or very tiny breeds. Cats average 12-14 years.

What determines the life span of the animal?
Barring a traumatic incident, the care of the pet has an effect on longevity, but so does genetics. Some animals have stronger immune systems than others.

How does the aging process affect the pet?
Aging can be thought of as the opposite of growth. Essentially the aging body has a diminished capacity to fight disease, recover from injury, and rejuvenate in response to daily wear and tear.

What are the signs of aging?
As a pet ages, the senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and even cognitive function can diminish. Aging pets may drink less and have reduced appetite. A build up of dental tartar and gum disease may make eating uncomfortable. Up to 30% of aged dogs have some level of heart disease. Signs of advanced heart problems include night coughs, exercise intolerance. Old pets with arthritis may have difficulty rising and walking. Obesity, a frequent problem in older pets complicates many diseases related to aging, including heart disease and arthritis. Urinary or fecal incontinence, which is the inability to control urination or defecation sometimes occurs in older pets. Older pets may seem moody or disoriented at times.

Can anything be done to alleviate these problems?
Your older pet should have frequent examinations, and changes in behavior or appetite should be reported in detail to your veterinarian. Although many of the problems of old age cannot be cured, they can be relieved to a great degree. The purpose of such treatment is to improve the quality of life as well as prolong it.
Urinary leakage: If not due to urinary tract infection, the problem can often be improved or resolved through the use of phenylpropanolamine – a drug that strengthens the smooth muscle receptors in the urinary sphincter allowing your dog to pinch the sphincter tight.
Arthritic pain: Bayer aspirin along with glucosamine daily can offer significant relief from arthritic pain. It is essential to exert weight control in obese elderly arthritic pets. Obese pets need to lose the extra pounds because pounds are painful for the elderly arthritic pet.
Cognitive Dysfunction: Senility in our pets often manifests itself by a seemingly confused pet, a house trained pet who begins urinating or defecating indiscriminately, and changes in personality. A drug called Selegeline Hydrochloride, although expensive, has offered tremendous relief for many senile pets, restoring them to their more youthful psychological self.
What can be done to prevent severe health problems as my pet ages?
Regular veterinary exams and vaccinations are crucial. Because aging pets have a decreased ability to fight off disease, regular immunizations are important. Routine dental care, x-rays, and periodic blood analysis to detect other problems may be recommended. A balanced senior diet and regular exercise to control muscle conditioning and control weight are vital. Exercise improves circulation, which helps prevent senile changes in the brain. Because of increased thirst, older pets should have a constant supply of fresh water. Avoid making abrupt changes in your older pets lifestyles. Older pets are less tolerant of new places or people, loud noises, drastic temperature changes, different foods.

Older pets require increased amounts of well-deserved attention and affection. In summary, there is much that modern Veterinary Medicine can offer to make your pet’s golden years more pleasant.

How do I know when it is time to let my pet go?
Pets seem to have no fear of passing when their time comes. They seem to know when their old body is worn out and can no longer carry on. They simply quit eating, intending to starve themselves out. In the very last weeks or months, special tempting foods are allowed to encourage them to eat, but when your elderly pet refuses even the most favorite morsels, it may be time to bravely say good-bye and let them go. Surprisingly, when the time comes, although they cannot speak, owners somehow know.