Aging Pets

An aging pet experiences some increased risks and health monitoring is incredibly important.

  • Euthanasia
  • Senior Care
  • Weight Management


Unfortunately, being a pet owner means at some point we will have to say goodbye to our beloved furry family member. Every situation is different, and each time is a difficult and personal decision. When the time comes, we at Elgin Animal Hospital will do our best to help you through this decision and end of life care.

What is pet euthanasia and how do I know when it’s the right time?

Euthanasia is a medical procedure where a veterinarian administers a drug to your pet that ends his/her life. Knowing when the time has come for you and your pet is different in every situation and is a very personal decision. Our job as veterinary professionals is to discuss the issues and situation with you to aid you in making a decision. During this time, we focus on the quality of life and provide information to help you assess your pet’s situation and allow you to make the best choice possible.

How is the euthanasia drug administered?

The drug is given intravenously (in the vein) through a port in an intravenous catheter that is usually placed in the front leg. This allows the injection to be pain-free and you and your dog to be as comfortable as possible.

What is the cost of pet euthanasia?

Every situation is different and there are several things to discuss that may alter the cost depending on your wishes. We ask that people call our office, and we can go through the cost of the procedure with you.

Does your clinic provide bereavement counselling?

We offer support in this time of grief, and have resources that we can provide you with if needed.

Senior Care

Our senior furry family members play a wonderful role in our lives. They have grown with us and given us years of unconditional love and affection. Just as we do, senior pets have to deal with changes to their health as they get older and it is our aim to help both you and your pet deal with these changes as they occur. We want your pets to grow old gracefully and be as healthy and pain-free for as long as possible.

When are our pets considered senior?

Smaller breed dogs tend to age at a slower rate than their large and giant breeds counterparts. That being said, the changes that signal the onset of ageing generally begin to occur at around 6-8 years of age. Most veterinarians agree that dogs are considered to be senior or geriatric at 7 years of age. For cats, they are considered a senior at 7-8 years of age.

What are the most common health issues experienced by senior pets?

Older animals are more at risk for developing diseases such as thyroid disorders, liver problems, kidney problems, high blood pressure, heart disease, dental disease, muscle and/or joint problems such as arthritis, etc. Many of our pets hide the signs of sore or aching joints from us, and the only subtle sign of problems may be decreased activity, as shown by a reluctance to play, climb stairs or jump up onto furniture.

How should I care for my senior pet?

Since many of these age-related problems can be difficult to spot by the average owner until they are advanced, senior pets should visit the veterinarian more often. Annual checkups are considered to be the norm for adult cats and dogs, but once a pet becomes senior, twice-a-year checkups are advisable, so that we can look for subtle signs of problems before they become serious. Since dogs and cats age at a much faster rate than humans, visiting the veterinarian every six months would be the equivalent of visiting your doctor for a complete physical examination every 3 or 4 years!

Weight Management

Obesity is an increasing health concern in cats. Over 50% of adult cats in North America are overweight or obese. Overweight pets are at an increased risk for many health problems including diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease and respiratory problems. Nutrition plays an important role in maintaining your pet at a healthy weight.

How do I know if my pet is overweight?

We determine if a pet is overweight, by scoring their body condition. The scale we use is a 1 to 5 scoring, with 1 being emaciated, and 5 being obese. Ideally our pets are scored at a 3, and we are able to feel their ribs, and that they have a visible waist and a tucked in abdomen. You may also notice a few behaviours that may indicate being overweight, such as an inability to jump up, frequent sleeping, and losing their breath when walking quickly or running.

How can I help my pet lose weight?

It is valuable to first determine how much you are feeding your pet, as it is commonplace for us to unintentionally overfeed our pets. A good place to start after this is a nutrition consultation with your veterinarian to calculate their requirements. After this, altering their current diet, or putting them on a diet food may be needed.

What is offered during a nutritional consultation?

During a nutritional consultation, your veterinarian will meet with you and discuss what your pet typically eats throughout the day, as well as their activity level. They will then take a series of body measurements to determine what your pet’s ideal body weight is. They will typically recommend a diet food and go over instructions for gradually introducing the food and maintaining your pet on their new diet. During their weight loss program it is important to regularly weigh your pet to observe problems and discuss any problems.

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