Advice For You

To Help Your Old Pet

Advice To Help Your Older Pet

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Welcome to, a website dedicated to old dogs and cats and the diseases and problems they, and you by association, often encounter with age. An understanding of the aging process is an important adjunct to managing the many maladies that can occur as your pet gets older. Unfortunately, we cannot stop the process of aging, or really even slow it down. However, there are many things that can be helpful in managing these maladies. That is, and will be the purpose of the site, to guide and inform you along the way as you see your beloved pet change before your eyes.

What We Are

This site is dedicated to helping the pet caretaker navigate the often difficult times encountered in living with the elderly animal. The site attempts to address the most common problems I have encountered during my career and especially those involving the old cat and dog. It also aims to help the pet caretaker understand and possibly use conservative means to keep their pet functioning as long as possible. I am not a fan of the continued pursuit for a specific diagnosis that may not result in a positive outcome with treatment, or the constant return to the veterinarian for testing that really only addresses the potential liability for the veterinarian and not necessarily the health and well being of the elderly animal. 

What We Are Not

The site is not an “end all” for age related problems, nor does it give a comprehensive analysis for all of the problems associated with aging. It also does not provide a guarantee that if a recommended approach is followed, the pet will significantly or even minimally improve. Each animal is unique with individual requirements specifically related to its physiology and metabolism, and even though there is a commonality associated with the species and even the specific breed, only generalizations can be attached to each disease or problem. 


Much of the information you will find here comes from my experience related to many years as a veterinarian, the last 15 years of which have been devoted to the old and end of life dog and cat. You will find that my viewpoints are, in many cases, contrarian to the general viewpoints of veterinarians and the global pet caretaking community. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I am correct and they are wrong. However, my narrow focus on the elderly animal and end of life situations, has given me a different perspective on the issues affecting these animals. I soon realized that I wasn’t taught how to deal with the aged animal. Over time, and after thousands of discussions with clients, I found that there were many common threads associated with the problems affecting the older dog and cat. Along with this new knowledge came new approaches to dealing with these common diseases, and I was often able to give helpful advice that would prolong the animal’s life. I also discovered that many, if not most veterinarians develop a sort of “tunnel vision” approach when they discover a specific problem, such as cancer, kidney disease, heart disease or a plethora of other diagnoses. Once they see what they think is the primary problem, they completely neglect to look for anything else, often missing an important additional malady that is the reason the animal was presented in the first place. A prime example is the finding of a mass in the abdomen, which has been developing in most cases for a significant amount of time. However, that singular finding becomes the primary cause for every symptom the caretaker has witnessed. Rarely, in my experience is that the case, but the veterinarian in charge stops right there and tells the client the devastating news and that the caretaker should consider euthanasia. I couldn’t even hazard a guess as to how many of these animals are euthanized right then and there, but likely in the millions over time. In other cases when the owner decides not to pursue euthanasia immediately, I may be called. I will then have a long discussion with the caretaker and in many cases, that animal will live a longer and comfortable life until they pass naturally or decline to the point euthanasia is performed. 

The Older Pet

I have found that the information for helping the pet caregiver navigate the process of aging in their beloved pet is often misguided or wrong. Veterinarians are not substantially educated on how to provide quality guidance when it comes to the older dog or cat, especially when those pets reach the elderly stage of their lives. That is usually when euthanasia is discussed related to suffering and quality of life issues. See Validating Euthanasia.

How Dogs And Cats Age

All creatures go through a continuing process of change as they age. This aging process in dogs and cats mirrors in many ways, what is seen in people, although our pets visually, and physically, age more rapidly because their life spans are compressed. There are different stages in the life cycle and for my purpose here, I will refer to them as juvenile or growth, adult, geriatric and elderly. Although, the first two stages are important, my focus will be on the geriatric and the elderly. In general terms, the geriatric period for dogs starts around 7 to 9 years of age, and for cats at around 10 years, but these parameters vary depending on species and size. The time frames listed here are certainly not exact and are only used as reference points for discussion. (Link to full article)

Pet Age Chart

Common Age And Species Related Problems

I have been a veterinary practitioner for 55 years and counting. The last 15 years of my career have been dedicated to helping the older dog and cat. That narrow focus has increased my knowledge considerably about how to recognize, help and treat the elderly animal. Some diseases or problems can be seen in any age cat or dog, while many are related to the geriatric or elderly animal. It’s important for the pet caretaker to have knowledge of what diseases or problems tend to show up later in the lives of their pets so they can be proactive in dealing with  these diseases and/or problems. With that in mind, I have grouped certain diseases or problems that I have noticed via conversations with many pet caretakers. The groupings are certainly not exact, but can give a head’s up for what to watch for as the pet reaches the geriatric phase of life. 

Old Cats

  • Arthritis 
  • Kidney Disease 
  • IBD/Lymphoma

Old Small Dogs

  • Dental Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Dementia

Old Large Dogs

  • Neuropathy 
  • Abdominal Masses
  • Arthritis

Navigating The Site

I wanted to develop a site that might be helpful for people with geriatric and elderly pets to understand how the aging process is affecting their pet. This has become my passion for the last several years, and I have learned a great deal about how people respond to their pet as it ages, and how the pet responds to the process as well. In the “back part” of the site I will try to explain what I commonly see in the elderly pet. Much of what you will read is based on my research, as well as my experience of being in veterinary medicine for 50+ years. You can go to different parts of the site by clicking on an image that is active. There are pages and posts for general information about elderly dogs and cats, as well as common diseases and problems I see frequently in both species. I would suggest you check back often to get updated and new information.