When your cat or dog reaches a certain age, they will require more specialized care than usual. Being considered a senior is dependent upon on various factors, such as breed, environment, genetics, and nutrition. More veterinarian visits are usually required with a senior pet as well so that we can keep a close eye on any subtle changes. Below are some of the things you can expect as your pet ages and ways that you can help them adjust.
As your pet ages, they may develop arthritis. You may notice that they do not want to walk up and down stairs as much, they may not want to go for long walks, and they may have difficulty getting comfortable or getting up from their bed. Make sure your pet has a comfortable, padded place to sleep. You can also talk to your veterinarian about a joint supplement and pain medication if you notice that your pet is showing signs of pain. Therapeutic Laser can also help your pet with the pain and inflammation that comes along with arthritis. Please feel free to contact a member of your pet’s health care team at College Manor Veterinary Hospital to discuss these options further.
Weight Gain/Weight Loss
Since your pet may not be as active as they once were, you may notice them starting to put on weight. Obesity in itself is a major health issue, but can also lead to other health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease and orthopedic disease. You can help prevent obesity by ensuring your pet gets enough exercise (that is appropriate for an older pet) and ensuring a proper diet. On the other hand, your older pet may develop diseases that can lead to weight loss. These include, but are not limited to, dental disease, heart disease, kidney disease and liver disease. Make sure you see your veterinarian ensure that if your pet has developed any conditions, they are properly treated and monitored.
Just like people, animals can develop cognitive dysfunction as well. The following can be signs of senility: house soiling, increased wandering, confusion, repetitive activity, disorientation, decreased response to commands, change in sleep cycles, and more. If you notice any of these signs in your pet, speak to your veterinarian, as they can prescribe medication or a certain diet that will help with these symptoms.
Hearing and Vision Loss
You may notice your pet gets startled easily if you approach them from behind or may have trouble waking them up. These can be signs of reduced hearing. If you think your pet is experiencing hearing loss or reduced hearing, get them checked by the veterinarian to rule out any growths, infections or foreign bodies that may be causing it. If it is just due to old age, there is not much that can be done for it. Just try to accommodate your pet by using hand signals and making your presence known as not to startle them. You may notice your pet’s vision start to change as well! Regular eye exams by your veterinarian can be instrumental in detecting ophthalmic diseases early. Of course, if you notice any changes to the appearance of their eyes or quality of vision, please mention it to the veterinarian. If your pet is experiencing vision loss, you may have to make some changes to your house to make sure they are able to navigate around the home safely.
Dental disease is usually advanced in older pets and can lead to other health issues. Your pet may have trouble eating, as their mouth may be painful. Talk to your veterinarian for a dental exam, as your pet may need to have teeth removed. Make sure to take care of your pet’s mouth by brushing their teeth. If brushing is not an option, consider switching to a dental diet or giving dental chews, toys, and treats.
Written by College Manor Veterinary Hospital