Elderly Pet Care, Pet Care Basics

How to Care for Middle Age Cats and Dogs

How should you support a dog or cat that is getting older? “Pet Boomers,” middle age dogs and cats, are in a critical time of life when it comes to their health. If you can correct health problems at this age, you can usually solve the “old pet” issues later!

What is the Most Common Disease in Older Cats?

While a middle age cat can face feline arthritis, kidney disease in cats is the number one issue in older felines. Blood work will detect the issue but it needs to be done before age eight. Research is being done as to why cats have kidney disease at high rates but little is known for sure. If you detect feline kidney disease early, you can use oral treatments like Azodyl and Epakitin to slow down uremic buildup, which helps manage kidney disease. Used daily, you can ease the kidneys’ job of removing toxins from the blood. Additionally, medication to control high blood pressure and prescription cat food to manage kidney disease are important and can be prescribed by your veterinarian. The Revival Animal Health pharmacy can provide many of these medications prescribed by your veterinarian for your middle age cat.

Other disorders in older cats causing weight loss include hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus. Discuss testing your middle age cat for these disorders with your veterinary professionals.

Do Cats Get More Hairballs as They Age?

Hairballs in older cats can be an issue; excess shedding is the cause. Vitamins are a big help, as are fatty acids. Old cats with decreased appetite often lose ability to smell. Putting salmon oil on food helps with loss of appetite, and it improves the ability to smell food. It also helps lube hairballs so they pass. If a cat is getting hairballs, fatty acid supplements made with salmon oil such as Alaska Naturals Salmon Oil can help correct excess shedding.

Common Middle Age Dog Health Issues

Middle age dogs can have canine kidney disease as well, but their biggest health issue is arthritis in dogs. As they age and get sore, they move less and therefore lose muscle mass in their legs and hips. Middle-aged dogs start to get weak if nothing is done early enough to stop the cycle. You can take the edge off of the soreness with Doc Roy’s® Aches Away. This will ease the pain of grinding joints, including spinal pain, which will help to keep them active. It takes three to four weeks to get to effect so don’t give up too soon.

You can delay the onset of arthritis and even improve movement with glucosamine/chondroitin products, but not all are made the same. If you have tried them in the past and they didn’t work, don’t lose heart! Know that the source is everything with these nutra-pharmaceuticals and getting a quality source is not expensive.

Dogs have a tendency to become very comfortable on the floor in front of the fireplace in winter. It’s important to take them out for short walks every day to keep them moving. Joints in motion stay in motion, and this helps to maintain strength. Don’t go on a marathon; just taking them around the block is enough to keep things working. It is good for the dog’s joints and our own, as well.

Older dogs may benefit from prescription pet foods and medications. Once your veterinarian assesses your older dog’s kidney and liver health, they can prescribe appropriate medications such as Meloxidyl and Carprofen (Rimadyl®) from the Revival pet pharmacy.

How Do You Keep a Dog or Cat Healthy As They Age?

Effective vitamin use for dogs and cats is important. It is no secret that the young, the moms, and the older pets benefit most from vitamin use. They not only require more, but they also tend to absorb less out of their diet. Doc Roy’s® Forti Cal Gel is a good vitamin option for cats and dogs, and the calories are a plus. Forti Cal Gel also helps with hairball vomiting in older cats.

Giving cats a new product can be challenging. They need to be introduced as they have a natural distrust for new tastes. This instinct protects them from being poisoned in the wild, but it can be frustrating when introducing something new. Start small and give them a chance to taste it on their own. Wipe a small amount on their paw, and let them clean it off the first time or two. (Put small amounts on the paw or you will find it on the ceiling!) After they accept it, it can be a treat or you can put it on the food for them to consume at their leisure.

For older dogs, a multi-vitamin such as Doc Roy’s® Daily Care Extra Canine can help provide older dogs nutrients they may be missing due to lowered food intake or loss of appetite. This extra strength dog multivitamin helps support the dog’s muscles, bones, eyes, heart and brain function as well as energy levels. For cats, try Doc Roy’s Daily Care Feline.

Do Cats and Dogs Fur Change As They Get Older?

Dull hair coats, excessive shedding and thin hair on older dogs and cats are not from age. Cat and dog coat changes are easily corrected and are responsive to fatty acids, which may be lacking in their diet, or their absorption may have decreased with age. Doc Roy’s® Derma Coat Plus can correct these issues in your older dog, while salmon oil helps boomer cats to eliminate hair and coat issues. It takes approximately six weeks for the treatment to have effect, so don’t stop supplementing too soon or you may never get the new coat in place. Once the coat is in, using fatty acids routinely is the solution. If the coat does not improve, discuss testing your older dog for canine thyroid dysfunction.

Age is not a disease – correct the issues your pet is dealing with, and he will live a long, healthy life. Our older cats and dogs will age well if you identify the issues early and help them manage for a comfortable, active life!

If you need help with caring for your middle age cat or dog or would like more tips on caring for an older dog or cat, call us at 800.786.4751.

Article originally written by Donald Bramlage, DVM, Revival’s Former Director of Veterinary Services. This article has been updated/reviewed by Dr. Greer.

Written by: Marty Greer, DVM

Director of Veterinary Services

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.