Here at the Pets’n’Vets Family, we look forward to following your pet through many phases of their lives.
Our pets are living longer than ever before now for a number of reasons including better nutrition and advances in veterinary medicine. Although it is wonderful that we have the joy and pleasure of spending more time with our pets, the increased lifespan means that, unfortunately, they become more susceptible to certain diseases which tend to be more common in senior animals.
The best preventive care you can provide for your senior dogs is to keep them at a healthy body weight, provide appropriate exercise for their age, and feed a good quality, ideally age-appropriate, diet.
In dogs, the most common diseases associated with senior animals are osteoarthritis, Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (similar to Alzheimer’s in humans), heart disease, and different types of cancers. Senior dogs are also more prone to obesity and gastrointestinal issues, as well as hearing and vision loss and dental disease.
Some signs of possible health issues that you should look out for in your senior dog include:
- Slowing down or being less tolerant of exercise
- Struggling to stand up in the morning or to settle at night
- Drinking and/or urinating more
- Struggling to eat, drooling, pawing at the mouth, bad smell from the mouth
- Changes in behaviour such as increased aggression, periods of staring at nothing, increased vocalisation or restlessness (especially at night)
- New lumps and bumps – fatty lumps are common in older dogs and are not usually too concerning, but it is always advisable to get any new lumps and bumps checked out
As with dogs, you should try to feed your senior cats a good quality diet (a life stage diet is particularly recommended for older cats) and keep them at a healthy weight. It is important to weigh them regularly to notice any changes as gradual changes in weight may not be easily noticed.
Diseases more prevalent in senior cats are kidney disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, heart disease, cancers and osteoarthritis and dental disease.
Concerning signs that may be spotted in older cats include:
- Drinking and/or urinating more, especially in inappropriate places
- A voracious appetite (especially if also losing weight)
- Any unexplained weight loss
- Difficulty eating, drooling, pawing at mouth, bad smell from mouth
- No longer jumping up on beds, sofas or other high places
- Sleeping a lot more
A useful website to find out more about health conditions in senior cats is International Cat Care.
At Pets’n’Vets, we want to help your senior pets live happy and comfortable lives. Many of the diseases mentioned above for senior cats and dogs can be managed successfully, and some can even be cured, and the earlier the disease is caught, the better the outcome is likely to be. So, we recommend you bring your pet for regular health checks with us, especially if you have noticed any concerning signs, so that any problems can be discussed and, if necessary, investigated.
Together we will ensure that your pet’s quality of life is the best it can be in their golden years.