If you have an aging pet, you may begin to notice that they require a lot more care than they did when they were younger. Just like we humans are living longer, pets seem to be living longer too, but not necessarily healthier. Some of the same age-related conditions that happen to people happen to pets as well. Keeping them as strong, stable and healthy as possible in their senior years is critical to their quality of life. No one wants to see their beloved dog or cat suffer from spinal conditions, arthritis, diabetes, heart disorders or other conditions that are debilitating. Pets are considered seniors when they are seven years old. Many pets live shorter or longer lives than seven and understanding how to prevent painful chronic conditions is important, but it’s also just as important to know how to best care for pets with health issues.
Making it a priority to take your pet to the veterinarian on a regular basis for check-ups and wellness examinations will prevent disease and diagnose disorders early. Being proactive helps your pet live a more healthful life. Your veterinarian will run blood work and lab tests to diagnose and alleviate the concern of certain conditions that pets are susceptible to. You should take your pet in for exams every six months. It’s also very important to take your pet to the vet anytime you see new symptoms, or if they seem lethargic or sick.
Common Disorders in Older Pets
Some examples of diagnosis that are imperative to catch early are things like Cushing’s disease, which is an adrenal gland or pituitary disorder that can progress quickly. Another example would be something as simple as a urinary tract infection. If an infection goes unnoticed, the bacteria can travel into the kidneys and can get decrease kidney function, or it can cause bladder stones that might need to be surgically removed. There are countless more examples of the benefit of being proactive in getting your pets physical exams regularly.
Another issue for aging pets is arthritis. Just like us, pet’s cartilage and synovial fluid can start to degenerate. Many pets have arthritis in their hips and/or spinal stenosis when they age. There are preventative measures to take when they’re younger like giving them a joint supplement with glucosamine, but once the arthritis sets in, you need to have your veterinarian intervene.
There is new injectable medication that regenerates cartilage and help to alleviate pain and future deterioration called Adequan. There are also several different pain medications on the market that work like an NSAID, but it’s vital to never give your pet any medications that are human grade. Pets have special needs and medications work differently in humans than in animals.
Some pets develop spinal issues like IVDD (intravertebral disc disorder), which is a debilitating disease the progresses and can cause paralysis. There are medical interventions as well as surgical options, but again, it’s essential to take your pets to the veterinarian as needed in between your annual appointments.
Many older dogs develop “Old Dog Disease,” which is similar in symptoms to a stroke. If you notice your dog’s eyes are darting around, they’re vomiting, or they are falling and off balance, this is a sign of nystagmus and vertigo, which is an effect of the disease. There is no major treatment for this disorder; however, many times dogs will just simply need time to get through it, and they end up being fairly normal and living a good life. You will need to comfort and care for your dog with much more dedication during this time period.
If you notice your pet is not interested in eating, has increased thirst, can’t urinate, seems wobbly, vomiting, or any other newly developed issues, it could be a sign of a serious complication and you need to get your pet to the veterinarians office or the animal ER.
Keep your aging pets healthy, watch for new symptoms and irregularities, and schedule your pet’s physical exams today.
ANIMAL OASIS VETERINARY HOSPITAL