As our pets start to enter their senior years, usually from 7 years old and onwards for dogs and cats, certain age related health problems are more likely to arise.
Unfortunately the symptoms of age related diseases often develop slowly and can easily be missed, which is why it is especially important to keep your pet’s annual health examination and vaccinations up to date to ensure that they remain fit and healthy.
Common diseases of our senior pets:
Dental disease affects more than 85% of pets over the age of three.
If left untreated, dental disease commonly leads to liver and kidney disorders, heart disease, infections and loss of teeth. It can also be extremely uncomfortable or even painful, and cause them to have bad breath.
Heart disease affects one in four dogs over the age of seven. Your vet will listen to your pet’s heart at his/her annual health examination to detect any changes.
Medication is available to successfully manage many forms of heart disease.
Arthritis is more commonly seen in dogs but cats are also affected. The latter are small and agile and can hide mobility difficulties caused by arthritis and, unlike dogs, cats with arthritis generally don’t limp.
Instead, cats affected by arthritis show subtle changes in their lifestyle or behaviour, so it is important to keep an eye out for any of the signs of this painful condition. These include reluctance to jump, stiffness when getting up, decreased grooming, decreased mobility, and grumpiness! Dogs tend to struggle to rise or appear stiff after rest, plus have difficulty climbing stairs and jumping into the car.
The joints most affected are the hips, elbows and knees.
There are very effective treatments available from your vet to help manage pain and improve mobility.
Our aging pets’ brains can have reduced activity and they may become confused, slow or disorientated. They may lose their house training, have disturbed sleep patterns or they may be less alert.
There are supplements available to help with the symptoms in dogs and cats.
Kidney disease is a slow, progressive and irreversible deterioration of kidney function, especially common in cats.
One in three cats over the age of ten has some degree of kidney disease.
Cats may only show symptoms once 75% of the kidney tissue has already been destroyed.
Simple routine tests carried out by your vet can detect kidney disease at an early stage and early detection invariably results in a longer, healthier lifespan.
Some signs to watch out for are:
- Excessive drinking and/or urination
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Increased sleeping/lethargy
- Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
A diagnosis of kidney disease is not a death sentence! There are some very effective treatments available nowadays to help improve quality and length of life. Some are as simple as a change of diet!
Your pet’s dietary requirements will change as they get older anyway. You can seek nutritional advice specifically for the older pet at your vets.
To help your pet to live a longer, healthier, happier life it is important for you to monitor them closely.
Some important things to monitor are:
- When grooming your pet check for any lumps or bumps
- Has there been any change in your pet’s appetite or thirst?
- Has your pet’s weight changed?
- Is your pet still able to do things like jumping on the sofa?
Regular health checks with your vet are very adviseable to enable early detection of any age related illnesses and diseases.
Banstead Village Vets is offering FREE URINE AND BLOOD PRESSURE TESTING FOR CATS OVER 8 at the moment to try and increase detection of kidney disease particularly. A diagnosis of kidney disease is not necessarily a bad thing! There are all sorts of measures that can be implemented to prolong and improve your cat’s quality of life and slow down the disease process. Even if your elderly cat seems healthy, a urine and blood pressure test is still a good idea for early detection of any problems (especially as its’ free!)
Please contact the surgery on 01737 210011 for further details.
YOUR LOCAL CARING VET