SENIOR PETS – HOW CAN WE HELP THEM?
Lisa Bennett (Bennett, 2017)
Bennett, L. (2017, 4 10). www.mosmanvet.com.au. Retrieved from Senior Pets – How can we help them?: http://www.mosmanvet.com.au/Blog/tabid/21948/EntryId/540/Senior-Pets-How-can-we-help-them.aspx
A “senior” pet refers to dogs and cats over the age of 7 years. This is approximately equivalent to the human age of 50 years. Unfortunately for all of us, aging itself involves damage and loss of function that occurs over time to all cells of the body.
It is important to remember that old age is not a disease, so ascribing signs of illness to aging should be avoided. “Slowing down” will of course occur as your pet ages but this can also be caused or exacerbated by pain resulting from osteoarthritis or other metabolic disease processes such as kidney or liver disease.
Your younger pets should be having a general health check each year. This usually occurs at the time of vaccination where your vet will examine its eyes, ears, heart, lungs, skin, dental health and general body condition. Senior pets should be having a comprehensive wellness examination every 6 months which involves a physical examination as well as pathology testing of blood and urine to enable an assessment of the internal organ systems. This frequency of testing is warranted because an older animals health status may change rapidly and because early detection and treatment of problems is important to preserve quality of life.
These are a few clinical signs that may alert you to a possible medical problem:
1. Increased water consumption - have you noticed that you are filling the water bowl more regularly? Are more frequent toilet stops required? Increased toileting at night?
2. Weight loss and/or decline in general body condition
3. Anxiety, restlessness, howling at night (especially cats)
4. Difficulty jumping up (either into the car or onto the couch) or hesitation to go up or down stairs