Did you know that your pet is considered to be a "Senior Pet" at the age of 7?! Once your pet hits 7 years old we recommend doing yearly blood work to help prevent and potentially diagnose any future problems.
With improved vet care and dietary habits, pets are living longer now then ever before. It is important to have your pet examined every year by your vet. Any of the following signs need to be taken seriously and your pet should be seen as quickly as possibly.
- Sudden weight loss or gain - Loss of Vision/ Hearing
- Increase in urination or water intake - Mouth Odor / Drooling Excessively
- Depression / Lethargy - Hair Loss
- Vomiting / Diarrhea - Excessive Panting, Coughing
Surprisingly, Senior Pets can develop some of the same ailments that humans can... Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease. These are just a few of the more serious diseases that can effect your pet.
Arthritis in Your Senior Dog
5 of the major signs that your canine friend may have arthritis include:
- Your dog just seems "off". This may seem silly but you are the one that sees your pet everyday. If you notice that your pet just isnt acting right.. we recommend scheduling an exam for your pet with your Veterinarian.
- Your pet isnt eating as much. If youve noticed a decreased appetite in your senior pet, this may be a sign of arthritis.
- They just cant seem to get comfortable. Have you noticed your pet laying down and then 3 minutes later getting back up and trying to find another spot? This may be a sign of arthritis!
- Difficulty moving well. Limping, Trembling, or moving slowly when first getting up.
- Crying out is one of the biggest signs.. when your pet shows that they are in some sort of discomfort by crying out, this may be a sign of arthritis.
Treatment for Arthritis in Dogs
There are a few options we have when it comes to helping make your senior pet more comfortable with their arthritis.
- Arthritis medication and supplements
- Having your pet at a healthy weight
- Exercising your pet so that they will continue to maintain a healthy weight
- Heat Therapy- especially in the cold months
Arthritis in Your Senior Cat
Our feline friends tend to mask their pain very well. If you are noticing your cat in any discomfort, more then likely it is so much they cant bare it anymore.
- Overall stiffness, joint swelling, lethargy, lameness, and discomfort when being handled
- Decreased activity
- Lapsed litter box habits (due to pain caused by getting in and out)
- Hesitancy to run, jump, or climb stairs
Treatment for Arthritis in Cats
- Prescription Veterinary pain medication - It is so important that you ONLY use the medication that your Veterinarian gives you because cats CANNOT metabolize medications like dogs can. If your cat is given medication that is not specifically prescribed for it, it can kill them.
- Possible use of Nutritional Supplements
- Weight Loss if overweight
Changes in your Senior Pet
Cloudy or "Bluish" Eyes
There are a couple reasons that your pets eyes may turn cloudy or "bluish". Nuclear Sclerosis is a normal aging change that results from compaction and hardening of the lens fibers. Cataracts are the other reason. They are painless opacities of the lens that causes loss of vision. Unlike Nuclear Sclerosis, Cataracts can be surgically removed.
Thinning of the Iris
Cats can get something called "Iris Atrophy". Some cats eyes, particularly those lighter in color, may appear to be "moth-eaten" as they age. This does not appear to affect the vision but your cats eyes may become more light sensitive. If you notice increased pigmentation in the iris, this may indicate a risk for malignant iris melanoma.
Lumps and Bumps
One of the most important things to do if you notice your pet has a growth is to monitor it from day 1. If this means taking a picture of it so that you can go back and compare, then do so! In senior pets, things can change quickly which makes monitoring even more important. You want to watch the change in size, the change in color, and even then change in texture! It is also recommended that you bring your pet to their Veterinarian so that your Vet can also monitor the changes.
Change in Urine Output and Thirst
Your senior pet should not drink more water simply because they are old, it is summer, or the heat is on in the winter. If their water intake increases this could be a sign of a couple different things. We start looking for potential diabetes or kidney issues. If you notice an increase in urination, or accidents happening in the house when they normally dont, this could also signal issues such as infection, loss of sphincter control, or even an underlying disease.
Have you noticed that your senior pet is harder to wake up after they are sleeping? Do they become startled when they are approached from behind? This may be a sign of Hearing Loss or Deafness. If you are noticing these symptoms we highly suggest having your pet seen by their Veterinarian. An exam should be done to rule out other medical issues such as infection, growths, or foreign body in the ear. If your pet starts to experience hearing loss it is so important to help protect them. There are hazards such as cars and even smaller children. Hearing loss can become very disorienting and their risk of being hit by a vehicle increases. Younger children also tend to move fast, therefore a pet that cannot hear may become easily startled. This can cause potential risk not only to your pet but to the child as well.
Changes in Weight or Appetite
Weight loss or gain should be kept track of. If there are any changes in diet or eating habits, that should also be monitored. Pets should be fed a diet appropriate for their age and general health. Some pets may require a special or prescription diet.
Feeding Your Senior Pet
When it comes to feeding your senior pet you need to take into consideration that your pets activity level and need for calories is considerably less than when they were young. Senior pets therefore need to eat less food in order to stay trim and fit. If your pet is obese, this can cause their life span to become shortened. Older dogs have been shown to progressively put on body fat in spite of consuming fewer calories. This is due to a decrease in their activity and a change in their metabolic rate.
Here at CVC we carry the Hills Science Diet Active Longevity (Senior). This food is specified for pets 7 years and older. It has lower calories which helps your pet avoid weight gain, and it also has a normal protein level to help your pet maintain muscle mass.
All foods have a recommended feeding amount on the side of each bag. A good quality senior diet will provide high quality protein, glucosamine, and chondroitin for joint health, and a balance of vitamins and minerals to keep your senior pet healthy and active.
When it comes to your pets, our main objective it to help them maintain their health and optimum body weight. We want to make sure that we slow down or prevent the development of chronic diseases and well as minimize or improve any clinical signs of disease that may already be present. Obesity in pets is a very common problem and can exacerbate other ailments such as joint pain and kidney problems.
If you have any questions about how to help keep your Senior pets healthy, please dont hesitate to call our office at 765-825-9620! Our highly qualified staff is more then happy to discuss and answer any concerns you may have!