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When clients make decisions on behalf of their senior dogs and cats, their natural tendency is to factor in the age of their pet. Here at Abbotsford Animal Hospital we often hear comments such as, “I would pursue a diagnosis if only she weren’t so old” or, “I would treat him if only he were younger."
When clients voice these “senior objections” gentle encouragement is needed to rethink their age-related preconceived notions. Suggesting that they consider their pet’s functional age rather than the chronological age. This involves assessing the overall quality of a pet’s life, particularly as it appeared prior to injury or illness. When making significant decisions, this “functional age” is far more worthy of consideration than the “chronological age.”
What is functional age?
Here are some examples of how a pet’s age might constructively factor into the medical decision-making process. In each situation, the chronologically older animal is younger from a functional point of view.
When making medical decisions, clients frequently ask about their pet’s life expectancy. Life expectancies for cats and dogs of varying breeds are nothing more than averages. This means that some individuals will never reach “average” and others will far exceed it. Dismissal of testing and/or treatment simply because a dog or cat has already reached or surpassed this average doesn’t make good sense.
Be a savvy medical advocate
When making decisions, savvy medical advocates evaluate the whole package — spryness, organ function, overall comfort, joie de vivre — rather than considering age alone. Just because a dog or cat is, by definition, a senior citizen doesn’t mean his body is functioning like that of a senior citizen.
If you have a happy, lively, interactive and agile senior pet on your hands, throw those age-related numbers and averages out the window. Rather, observe your pet’s overall quality of life, share some nose-to-nose time with your best buddy. Look deep into those eyes, and make important medical decisions based on what’s truly important. Avoid simply relying on a number.
Questions for your veterinarian
If you have any questions or concerns, you can always visit or call us – we want to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
Abbotsford Animal Hospital - Caring for Pets for People in York Region, Aurora, Newmarket, King City, Richmond Hill and the GTA.
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