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Signs that your pet is getting old

Thanks to proper care, the right diet and medication, the lifespan of pets has increased significantly over the years. For most of our furry friends, however, this does unfortunately mean that their health is affected by old age. To give him or her a long and healthy life, your ageing pet will need some extra support. The most important way to do this is by providing a special diet, adjusting the exercise regime and paying attention to physical problems.

dog cuddling

Signs of ageing in dogs, cats, horses and rabbits

Dental issues

It’s very common for senior pets to experience dental issues. Senior dogs and cats are very susceptible to plaque formation, which can eventually result in gum infections or severe issues with the teeth. The condition can cause so much pain that your furry friend might not even want to eat anymore. There is special food for ageing dogs, where the adjusted texture and shape of the kibble helps clean your doggo’s teeth. Similarly, food for senior cats contains the right blend of ingredients to support your feline friend’s dental health.

Horses, rabbits and rodents tend to have dental health issues because their teeth keep growing. When your pet gets older, this can actually result in dental problems which prevents them from chewing their food. To avoid using their painful teeth, horses might end up swallowing their food before chewing it properly. This can result in bad digestion or even colic. To avoid these issues, you can feed your horse Bonpard Senior. This diet is easy to digest and is specifically developed for senior horses that have trouble chewing.

Rabbits and rodents use their teeth to grind down their food. If they aren’t fed the right diet, the teeth can grow too long or in abnormal directions. Because they aren’t able to eat, they can experience digestive issues and infections might spread throughout the body. A diet like Bunny Nature Rabbit Dream Oral is a great solution, because it contains ingredients that soothe irritated gums and the size of the pellets is easier to eat.

If you suspect that your pet is having dental problems, it’s always recommended to consult your veterinarian.


Osteoarthritis is unfortunately very common in senior dogs. Certain (large) breeds are more susceptible, in part due to predisposition but also because of ill-advised activity and inappropriate food habits. Osteoarthritis is almost always accompanied by painful movements. Dogs can have difficulty getting up and often walk stiffly while taking the first couple of steps, especially after a long period of rest. Other signs are lameness after a long walk or intense activity.

If cats have osteoarthritis, they tend to be less agile and not jump as frequently anymore. You might also notice they tend to groom themselves less often, because it hurts to turn backwards. This can make their coat look dirty and like it’s moulting. Supplements like Flexadin and Seraquin can offer your dog or cat some extra support if they suffer from joint issues.

If rabbits suffer from joint problems, they will not take proper care of themselves and night faeces can stick to their hindquarters. On the other hand, horses can become lame or have less desire and energy to move around. A Muscle Gel or mobility supplement will help relax the joints and muscles and keep them fit and healthy

Ageing of the brain and dementia

Dogs and cats can experience symptoms of ageing of the brain or dementia. Free radicals damage the brain with old age, which sometimes result in behavioural changes. A dog might show signs of disorientation like limited awareness of its surroundings, aimlessly walking around and staring around a room or at a wall. Both cats and dogs can experience disturbances in their sleeping patterns, like roaming around the house at night and howling or meowing loudly. They can also become incontinent, both during the day and at night.
Dogs can benefit from a diet like Hill’s Prescription Diet b/d Ageing & Alertness, as it contains ingredients that counteract certain symptoms of ageing. For cats, there’s food like Hill’s Science Plan – Feline Senior Vitality which contributes to brain support and helps the organs stay healthy.

Reduced organ function

A lot of senior pets also have to deal with reduced functioning of vital organs, like the heart and kidneys.


With old age, the renal (i.e. kidney) function will reduce quite a lot. The symptoms of this aren’t noticeable until the kidneys only work at about 30%, but you might notice that your pet starts drinking and peeing more, loses weight, loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting and bad breath. A blood analysis is necessary to fully map out the renal function. If this shows that it’s not functioning well anymore, a special diet and medication can be prescribed for clinical improvement.

Heart conditions

In case the heart isn’t functioning properly, pets experience fatigue, coughing and weight loss. If you notice your pet gets tired quickly during an activity or even faints, you should consult your veterinarian. They will be able to establish whether the heart condition is causing these problems.

Extra support

Senior pets are helped a great deal with some extra support. A special diet food is a great place to start, as it contains different ingredients than regular pet food. The diet has an adjusted energy content, is easier to digest and it unburdens the liver and kidneys. To help your rabbit, rodent or horse, you can offer shorter pieces of hay or add linseed to the food. All pets benefit from adjusted diets, the right exercise and additional care to live a long and healthy life!

Do you have any questions about your ageing pet? Contact our in-house veterinarian at!

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