Is My Pet Just getting Old?
It is hard to believe the same bundle of energy tearing around the yard a few years ago is now the calm and kind old friend curled at our feet. When your pet begins to slow down, to put on a little weight or stiffen up, they need your help and understanding. Unlike people, your pet can’t take responsibility for its care. Your pet relies on you!
How old is your pet?
Ageing varies by breed, body size and individual pet. Larger breeds of dogs age more quickly than smaller dogs. Typically a cat reaches their senior years at age 8, small dogs at age 9, and large dogs at age 7 or younger.
How does ageing affect older pets?
As our older pet's age, two kinds of changes occur. The first is age-related changes such as hearing loss, changes in vision or reduced activity. These are normal and cannot be prevented. The second kind is pathological change or disease such as heart disease, kidney disease, arthritis or dental disease. These are, to some extent, preventable or can be successfully managed.
The health care your pet receives throughout their lifetime can help minimise and prevent disease. Proper health care incorporates preventative measures, exercise, dental care, regular veterinary check-ups and eating a balanced diet, all of which are discussed here.
1. Veterinary care - regular seniors check-ups
Pets can not tell us when they feel unwell, and regular check-ups at least twice a year are vital for any aging pet. The risk of disease increases with age therefore early detection is the key to prevention.
2. Hands on physical examination
We can palpate or feel your pet’s bones and joints, abdomen, and head and neck areas for abnormalities. A stethoscope will be used to listen to your pet’s heart and lungs. Your pet’s eyes, ears, and mouth will also be checked for age-related problems, such as cataracts, dental problems, and ear canal disorders.
3. Once a year vaccination booster
4. Parasite control all year round including:
regular intestinal worming
Flea and tick control
Your pet should be active at least once a day. This will enhance circulation, maintain muscle tone, and help to prevent obesity.
6. Dental care
As with people, routine cleaning and dental care throughout a pet’s life will assist in preventing tooth loss, tartar build-up, periodontal disease and mouth odour. Dental problems left untreated can result in bacteria spreading to other areas in the body, including heart valves and kidneys.
7. Nutrition - healthy balanced eating
Dogs and cats experience significant changes in their ability to digest and absorb nutrients as they age. They can also develop a decreased ability to tolerate nutrient excesses and deficiencies. A properly formulated diet will have a significant impact on the health of your older pet by balancing out the deficiencies created by the ageing process.
Because of age-related changes, excesses of protein and salts may contribute to kidney and heart disease. Due to lesser energy requirements, excess calories will add extra weight. If however, your pet seems too thin it is important to make sure the problem isn’t anything more serious than not enough calories.
Several high quality premium pet foods are available including foods to treat age related conditions, medical concerns and obesity.
Senior health plans can detects disease early.
We can now perform very sensitive tests on blood and urine to check the inner workings of your pet. A quick painless x-ray can be used to assess the size of your pet's heart, which can indicate early disease before it is otherwise obvious.
LOOK OUT FOR THE EARLY WARNING SIGNS
Observe your pet for the EARLY WARNING SIGNS of ageing and age-related diseases:
Change in appetite, weight loss or weight gain
Loss of housetraining
Difficulty rising, walking or climbing stairs
Confusion or disorientation
Appearance of lumps or bumps
Bad breath, plaque, or bleeding gums
Diarrhoea or vomiting
Change in sleep patterns
Ear odours, redness, scratching, or head shaking
Excessive drinking and/or urination
We specialise in looking after senior pets and can onboard your pet into our senior pet health care programme which takes the guess work out of providing optimum care for your ageing fur kid. We’ve made it really simple to get started, simply click here to “Book an Appointment” or give us a call at the clinic.