Just like their human counterparts, our pets are living longer, better quality lives due to advances in science and preventative medicine. It’s great when we only see your pets once a year for their annual check up and vaccination, but as our pets age, how do we know what is normal for an older animal?
Around 7 years of age, pets start to enter their senior years. They can begin to develop diseases such as diabetes and other endocrine disorders, heart disease, dental disease, kidney disease, musculoskeletal diseases and cancer. Many of these diseases have treatment or management options once diagnosed. Early identification and intervention of these diseases is important, to ensure better quality of life as our pets age.
Signs to watch for include:
– Appetite – are they eating more or less, and is their weight reflective of their caloric intake. Does your pet have bad breath, or is it avoiding harder foods?
– Drinking – are they drinking more or less than usual, taking into account weather changes
– Toileting – is it more frequent, does it look normal, and are there any signs of pain when going to the toilet. Does your pet still toilet in the correct place?
– Energy levels – is your pet reluctant to exercise, does it tire easily or sleep a lot
– Behaviour – is your pet grumpier or not acting like itself. Does it seem confused or disoriented?
– Limping or stiffness when walking or running – can your pet still go up and down stairs or jump into the car or on the couch?
– Lumps and bumps – any new lumps that are growing quickly, bleeding, changing in behaviour or bothering your pet should be checked by the vet.
– Changes in skin or coat – coat changes, hair loss, itchy skin.
A thorough vet-check, as well as non-invasive procedures such as blood tests, urine testing, x-rays or ultrasound helps us identify diseases early and monitor their progression. Treatment may include change in diet, supplements, medication or surgery.
Remember – age is NOT a disease, there may be a good reason for the change in your pet as it ages. We are here to help make them as comfortable as possible as the years pass by.