Senior Pet Health
Did you know that most pets reach their senior years around 7 years of age? Frontier Veterinary Hospital is dedicated to providing these older friends with the best medical care available and making resources and information available for the humans who love them.
Your Senior Pet
- Frequent exams and twice yearly blood work and urinalyses are the best resources for preventative care for your senior pet. Our Whole Health Plans provide a range of options that include the recommended testing and examinations.
- Behavioral changes can occur as your pet ages. These changes can include both physical and mental changes and may be indicative of underlying issues.
- Dogs and cats age approximately seven times faster than humans — find out how old your pet is in human years!
- Older pets with arthritis can experience some extra discomfort in the cold or wet months. Talk to your veterinarian for tips on helping make your pet comfortable during the winter.
- Nutrition is important a pet’s entire lifetime, but their needs can change dramatically as they age. Pets who suffer from joint pain or arthritis can be given food with additives like glucosamine, while overweight pets can ease some of the strain on their bodies by using a reduced-calorie diet. Your veterinarian can help you decide which diet would be beneficial to your senior pet’s well-being.
- Dental care is an essential part of your senior pet’s lifestyle. Dental disease can affect other organs in the body: bacteria in the mouth can get into the bloodstream and may cause serious kidney infections, liver disease, lung disease, and heart valve disease. Oral disease can also indicate that another disease process is occurring elsewhere in a pet’s body. Click here for more information on pet dentistry.
The most common signs of arthritis are pain, lameness or limping, and a marked reluctance to movement. Cats may have trouble using the litter box. There could be a change in attitude or behavior; depending on their level of pain, a change in behavior could mean anything from hiding under the bed, or sudden aggression in a normally even-tempered dog. More information.
This is a very serious but entirely manageable disease. The classic signs of diabetes are an increase in appetite, water intake and urination, and weight loss. If the disease is not correctly regulated it can lead to more severe symptoms, such as weakness and lethargy, shaking, difficulty walking or convulsion. One in 400 felines is diagnosed with diabetes, so it is important to have your veterinarian do blood work often on your geriatric pet.
Kidney (renal) Disease:
Generally 70-75% of a pet’s kidneys are dysfunctional before clinical signs are noticeable, making it essential to do test on a regular basis for this disease. Early signs are often mistaken for the aging process, such as poor coat quality or weight loss. Symptoms can also include a sharp increase in thirst and water consumption, and thus an increase in urination. A senior pet experiencing kidney disease may have trouble controlling their urination and begin having accidents in the house.
As your pet ages, you may notice they develop white spots on their eyes, trouble judging distances or seeing in general. It may be completely unnoticeable other than your pet now missing the food bowl, jumping too short a distance to a countertop, or no longer able to catch a toy tossed in the air. Some eye diseases or issues may cause discharge from eye.
Neurological or behavior changes:
There are several maladies that can affect a pet’s neurological systems. Strokes, senility, and other diseases can cause a pet to become disoriented or show a drastic change in attitude. Pets that have behaved a particular way their entire life may suddenly change; while some afflictions may be part of the normal aging process and unavoidable, many issues can be diagnosed and treated. Irritability or aggression could be an indication of internal medical problems, and it is best to discuss even minor changes with your veterinarian.
Thyroid disease affects cats and dogs differently. Affected felines usually have overactive thyroid, while a dog’s thyroid will tend to be underactive. Symptoms in both dogs and cats can vary widely, from a change in appetite and weight, to a change in your pet’s hair color or thickness. The most effective tool in diagnosing thyroid issues is a yearly thyroid test. More information on thyroid conditions in Cats or Dogs.
The classic symptom of heart failure is a persistent cough, often accompanied by difficulty breathing. Additionally, pets with heart trouble will usually become easily fatigued, and may avoid exercise or play. A regularly scheduled visit with your veterinarian so they can listen to your pet’s heart will help to keep a close watch for signs of trouble.