Our pets age faster than we do – most animals are considered ‘senior’ by age seven and giant breed dogs by age five. We need to be aware of the health issues older pets may face to keep them healthy and happy for as long as possible.
Arthritis is a problem for both cats and dogs of all sizes. As our pets age, so do their joints, resulting in pain and discomfort when getting around. The common signs of arthritis include stiffness in the mornings, particularly in colder weather, a reluctance to walk, climb stairs or jump up. There are also more subtle signs, like your pet growling when being patted or groomed.
While we can’t cure arthritis, we can certainly manage it to reduce your pet’s pain and increase their mobility.
To help our older pets deal with arthritis, supplements like glucosamine, fish oil and green lipped muscles can help. The human version will often be fine, but there are also pet versions available that are tastier for your pet and therefore easier to administer.
If your pet is particularly sore, there are arthritis pain relief injections and courses of tablets that can also help. If you think your animal might need some extra help over winter, contact us for some advice.
We are more likely to see dental disease in older pets, as years of not brushing their teeth can take their toll. Dental disease has been shown to shorten a pet’s life expectancy by 2-4 years and not only gives them smelly breath but can also cause heart and kidney damage.
You can help keep your pet’s teeth clean by using a special pet toothbrush and toothpaste to clean their teeth, feeding them raw bones and feeding them prescription dental food. However if you think your older pet’s teeth need some professional attention, give us a call to organise a dental.
Lumps and Bumps
Any lump on your pet should be checked no matter how old they are, but in older pets the risk of that lump being something nastier is higher than in a younger pet. There are many simple tests that can be done on lumps to help determine if they need further investigation or removal. Also, since pets age faster than we do, a simple small lump can grow and change very quickly in the space of only a few months. It’s always easier to remove a small lump than a larger one!
Like humans, as pets age some of their organs might not be functioning as well as they used to. Also older pets may be on medication that can also impact their organ function. Performing blood screening tests are a useful way to get a baseline on how things are going on the inside of your pet. These can often help us to detect early changes and therefore make recommendations to keep your pet as healthy as possible.
Health checks once a year on all our pets are important, but in older pets it may be necessary to have a check-up every 6 months to ensure we can help them maintain a comfortable and healthy life as they enjoy their twilight years.