In the most recent AVMA pet owner survey, more than 39 % of the owned dog population were 7 years of age or older and these percentages continue to grow. This change in pet population demographics is due to in part due to several inter-connected factors. The slowly changing attitudes owners have toward their pets has significantly contributed to increases in their pet's life expectancy.
An animal's life can be divided into four stages; pediatric, adult, senior (middle age), and geriatric (senior / super senior). The senior / middle age years represents the transition period between the usually uneventful "healthy" adult years and the traditional "geriatric" age period where serious age related diseases are much more prevalent.
Aging in dogs and cats is associated with gradual and progressive deterioration in the delicate body systems that eventually results in anatomical changes and decreased physiological functions. At some stage in the progressive decline, a "tipping point" is reached, where all of the physiological reserves are exhausted resulting in altered biochemical parameters; overt changes in diagnostic screening tests; and/or the onset of clinical symptoms of age-related disease occurs.
Whether you call these patients geriatric, or "mature", special considerations are required in evaluating, examining, hospitalizing, and generally caring for older felines. Veterinarians and owners must understand that OLD AGE IS NOT A DISEASE, IT IS A STAGE OF LIFE.
Blood pressure measurement is often not a routine part of small animal practice. This partially has to do with the equipment available to measure blood pressure as well as our patients (they tend not to hold still like we have to).