As much as we wish our pets could live with us forever, they age just like we do and as they get older, they need some extra care. Here are some tips on how to keep your senior pet happy and healthy during their golden years.

When will my pet become a senior?

As a general rule, your furry friend is officially a senior pet once they turn six or seven years old. In human years, a seven-year-old cat is 45 and a dog is 45-55 years old. Small pets such as rabbits are senior from six years of age.

There is some variation when it comes to dog breed size. Larger dogs reach senior status earlier (giant breeds are considered seniors from 5 years old).

What are the signs my pet is ageing?

You may start to notice your pet slow down. Your pup no longer has endless energy and after a few rounds of fetch will need to take a break, while cats will start sleeping more and avoid rough play.

Other signs of ageing to watch for in senior pets include:

  • weight gain
  • struggling to rise
  • cloudy eyes or excessive blinking and pawing at the eye
  • not hearing commands
  • slow movements

An older orange tabby cat laying on an unmade bed

Just like their owners, as pets get older, they are prone to more serious illnesses such as cancer and joint diseases like arthritis.

Knowing what to look for and taking senior pets to your local Greencross Vets if you’re worried is the best preventative action to keep your best friend healthy and comfortable. Greencross Vets recommends you book your pet in for twice-yearly wellness checks to catch and treat any age-related issues early.


What’s the best food for my senior pet?

Pets benefit from specialised diets at all ages, especially when their puppies and as geriatric pets. Senior pets’ dietary needs change because their body needs different nutrients as they age.

Lower-calorie foods to prevent weight gain and high-fibre diets to improve gastrointestinal health are essential for senior dogs.

To meet your senior cat’s dietary needs, a canned food high in nutrients as opposed to dry food can provide variety and encourage a healthy intake of food.

A rabbit’s diet should also change as they age. Reduce the amount of pellets, increase the amount of grass hay and fresh veggies, and limit fruit.

How much exercise does my senior pet need?

Your senior pet may not be able to play for as long or as hard as they used to, but regular exercise is still crucial for a healthy pet!

Senior dogs benefit from regular low-impact exercise such as daily 20-minute walks. Providing chew toys are also great for mental and physical stimulation without risking them smelling something, taking off at full speed and injuring a leg.

Similarly, cats will benefit from regular play to keep their bodies supply and injury-free. A brown paper bag that crinkles is exciting for cats. Another idea is to hide small treats in a rolled-up paper towel.

Rabbits also benefit from exercise to prevent obesity. Like cats, hiding small treats in old tissue boxes or toilet paper rolls encourages movement and is mentally stimulating.

If you take good care of your senior pet, they‘ll be your best friend for decades. Find out more about senior dogs and cats and how you can provide them with the care they need.