We sometimes forget that our pets age approximately seven times faster than us.
So your 10-year-old cat or dog is the equivalent to a human of 70 years! Senior pets can develop any or all of the many problems often seen in elderly people, such as cancer, heart disease, joint or bone disease, diabetes, kidney/urinary tract disease, liver disease, senility and muscle weakness, to name just a few!
Because our pets cannot tell us when they are not well, regular veterinary check ups are vital. A full physical examination and a comprehensive blood report will often highlight many potential problems, and (as we all know): ‘a stitch in time saves nine’.
Changes in behaviour can often be the first indication of a health issue. In particular, signs of concern to look out for in senior pets include: loss of appetite, lethargy, breathlessness, reluctance to exercise, coughing, sudden weight loss, drinking excessive quantities, lumps or growths, stiffness, lameness and difficulty rising or jumping.
Following a full veterinary examination, an appropriate diagnosis, and careful treatment, many of these conditions can be successfully managed. For example, if your pet has been diagnosed with kidney problems you may need to put him on a prescription diet. With the correct medical diet and treatment, your senior pet can gain many additional years of active and happy life.
Obesity is common amongst senior dogs and cats so it is important to get the right balance between feeding and exercise. Excess weight can worsen health problems such as heart disease or arthritis.
An older animal’s immune system becomes less efficient and infections are picked up more easily and are more difficult to fight off. So remember, older pets still need regular boosters for vaccinations, plus flea and worming treatments as well.
The care your pet receives from an early age all goes a long way in helping to minimise and prevent disease in later life. This healthcare includes exercise, regular dental care, annual veterinary check ups, and eating a balanced diet.
For dogs and cats over the age of seven, Abbey Vets recommend a ‘Senior Booster’. This is carried out annually and includes a full booster vaccination, a thorough health examination and a discounted comprehensive blood report. It’s a great way to ensure your pet has a long and healthy life.
If you have any concerns about your elderly pet you can ask Abbey Vets for advice. Contact our Darton branch on Church Street on 01226 383161. If you have any questions about your pet’s health you can send them to Rachel McMaster via the Darton Arrow.