Senior Pet Health & The Importance of Regular Wellness Exams

As our pets age, their health needs change and it becomes increasingly important to prioritize their well-being. Today, our Simi Valley vets discuss the importance or regularly scheduled wellness exams for senior pets.

When does my pet become a senior?

A dog is generally considered a senior when they reach around 7 to 10 years of age, depending on their breed and size. However, it's important to note that individual dogs may age differently, and factors such as overall health and genetics can also play a role in determining when a dog is considered a senior.

A cat is typically considered a senior when it reaches around 10 to 12 years of age. However, it's important to note that this can vary depending on the breed and individual health of the cat. 

What happens during a wellness exam for a senior pet?

During a wellness exam for a senior pet, the veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination to assess their overall health. This includes checking their weight, listening to their heart and lungs, examining their eyes, ears, and teeth, and feeling for any abnormalities or lumps. 

Additionally, the vet may recommend specific tests, such as blood work or X-rays, to screen for age-related conditions like arthritis or kidney disease.

Why are vaccinations and preventive care so important for senior pets?

Vaccinations and preventive care are crucial for senior pets because their immune systems tend to weaken with age, making them more susceptible to various diseases and infections. 

Regular vaccinations help protect them against potentially life-threatening illnesses, while preventive care can detect any underlying health issues early on, allowing for prompt treatment and better management of their overall well-being. 

Why are health problems more common in senior pets?

Health problems are more common in senior pets due to the natural aging process. As pets age, their bodies undergo various changes, such as a decline in organ function and a weakened immune system, making them more susceptible to illnesses and diseases. Additionally, senior pets may have accumulated years of wear and tear on their bodies, leading to more conditions.

What are some of the most common heath problems in senior pets?

Some of the most common health problems in senior pets include arthritis, dental disease, obesity, and kidney disease. Additionally, senior pets may also experience cognitive decline and develop conditions such as cancer or heart disease.


Arthritis can have a significant impact on the mobility and overall quality of life for senior cats and dogs. It causes joint inflammation, stiffness, and pain, making it difficult for them to move around comfortably. 

This can lead to decreased activity, muscle loss, weight gain, and even behavioral changes as they try to avoid painful movements. Additionally, arthritis can worsen existing health conditions and make it harder for them to perform daily activities such as climbing stairs.

Dental Disease

Dental disease can lead to pain, discomfort, difficulty eating, and even weight loss. Additionally, dental disease in senior pets can also increase the risk of developing other health issues, such as heart disease or kidney problems. 


In cats, obesity can lead to an increased risk of developing diabetes, arthritis, and urinary tract issues. It can also put additional strain on their joints and make it harder for them to move around comfortably. 

Similarly, in dogs, obesity can contribute to joint problems, heart disease, respiratory issues, and a decreased lifespan. 

It is crucial for pet owners to monitor their senior cats and dogs' weight and provide them with a balanced diet and regular exercise to help prevent these health complications.

Kidney Disease

As pets get older, their kidney function tends to decline. Managing chronic kidney disease involves a combination of diet and medications to help control the condition.

Cognitive Decline

Cognitive decline, also known as cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), affects your pet’s cognitive abilities, including memory, learning, and problem-solving skills. For instance, senior pets may experience disorientation, confusion, and difficulty recognizing familiar people or places. They may also exhibit changes in sleep patterns, loss of house-training skills, increased anxiety or aggression, and reduced interest in activities they once enjoyed. 

It is important for pet owners to be aware of these specific impacts in order to provide appropriate care and support for their aging furry companions. 


It is estimated that around 50% of pets in the US succumb to cancer. Thus, it is crucial for your senior pet to regularly visit the vet for wellness exams as they get older.

Regular checkups for your aging pet are important for detecting potential health issues early on. This proactive approach enables your veterinarian to identify signs of cancer and other diseases that can be more effectively treated when caught in their initial stages.

Heart Disease

Senior dogs often experience congestive heart failure. This condition arises when your dog's heart fails to effectively pump blood, resulting in fluid accumulation in the heart, lungs, and chest.

Although heart disease is not as prevalent in cats, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a relatively common condition. This condition leads to the thickening of the walls of a cat's heart, resulting in a decrease in the heart's efficiency.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you suspect that your cat or dog may be experiencing age-related health issues, such as those listed above, it's important to seek professional veterinary advice. Schedule an appointment with our Simi Valley vetS today to ensure the health and well-being of your beloved furry companion.