Due to improved veterinary care and nutrition, pets are living longer now. One consequence of this is that pets, along with their owners and veterinarians, are faced with a whole new set of age-related conditions. Pets hide EVERYTHING! Thus it is up to the veterinarian and the entire healthcare team to play detective. Bi annual examinations allow the veterinarian to pinpoint areas of pain, change and concern. Tenderness upon palpation, masses, hydration, and weight all are important parameters evaluated at every senior examination. Pets are generally considered mature (senior) at the age of 7.
Senior pets can develop many of the same problems we see in elderly people, such as:
- Cancer – This can be hard to detect but by doing bi annual examinations and blood testing we have a better chance of detecting it.
- Heart disease – exercise intolerance, coughing, changes to respiration’s
- Kidney/Urinary tract disease – changes to thirst/urination’s, inappropriate urination’s, changes in appetite, vomiting, nausea
- Liver disease – weight loss, changes to appetite
- Diabetes – increased thirst, urination, appetite, weight loss
- Joint or bone disease – subtle in some pets especially in beginning. Dogs activity level may change, stairs, cats may not jump as much
- Senility – getting lost in rooms, increased anxiety, repetitive activity
- Weakness – changes in activity, jumping, rising, stairs, endurance on walks
What are early signs of pain in our dogs and cats? Slow to get up or reluctant to go on walks, licking, chewing or biting, tiredness/ irritability, hesitation to jump/do stairs, crying/yelping/growling, limping, increased/ shallow breathing, not going in litter box.
What are early signs of senility in cats? Disorientation, restlessness, recessive grooming or lack of grooming, inability to follow familiar routes, extreme irritability, changes in sleep cycles, accidents outside litter box.
What are the signs that dogs show? Anxiety, decreased activity, pacing/staring at walls, inappropriate vocalization, disorientation- getting “lost” in the house, changes in sleep cycles.
Pets deserve the right to age with grace and dignity just as we do. Being proactive and recognizing that subtle changes can indicate changes with your pet’s health, will help them live a happier and healthier life. If you notice any changes in your senior pets, please call us and book an appointment with one of our caring and knowledgeable veterinarians. It is our goal to work with you and your pet’s needs to help make their golden years the best they can possibly be.