Just like us, pets develop health problems as they age. It’s hard to admit (or even recognize), but modern veterinary medicine and regular at-home care can go a long way to improving and extending the lives of senior pets.
Senior pets are generally considered geriatric at 7 years old. As your pet ages, you may notice some behavioral changes. While some of these may be completely harmless, many shifts in patterns or habits can indicate larger health problems.
Senior Wellness Exams
To aid in early detection efforts, we recommend all senior pets receive at least two wellness exams per year. Many animals are experts at hiding symptoms of pain or illness, but routine exams can help us catch issues early on, leading to better health outcomes.
Common Diseases Among Senior Pets
A thorough physical exam may prompt the need for blood or urine tests, as well as other diagnostics, to gain a full picture of your pet’s health. This information may lead to the diagnosis of any number of age-related conditions, including:
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
- Diabetes mellitus
- Liver disease
- Cushing’s disease
- Dental disease
Unfortunately, many senior pets suffer from more than one of these chronic illnesses. That’s why routine wellness visits are so important for our aging companions.
Although senior pets do tend to move slower, it’s definitely cause for concern if your pet cannot – or will not – get up. Make notes regarding the time of day you see your pet become more lethargic, events that coincide with a refusal to move or exercise, and any stiffness or weakness of the limbs. While your pet could simply be tired, this particular change in an otherwise energetic or alert animal can indicate a variety of age-related illnesses that shouldn’t be ignored.
When to Call Us
Other signs of chronic disease in senior pets include:
- Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
- Changes in urination (noticeable increase or decrease), cloudy or bloody urine, accidents around the house, and/or obvious pain while urinating
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Cloudy pupils accompanied with impaired vision and irritability
- Increased thirst
- Wounds that won’t heal
- Lumps/bumps on or beneath the skin
- Bad breath or pain while chewing
Health for Life
Many signs and symptoms can be misinterpreted as part of the “normal” aging process, so it’s important to remain vigilant about your senior pet’s health. Staying on top of wellness can increase quality of life and can potentially prevent many chronic diseases and illnesses.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about senior pets. We are always committed to helping our animal companions live the healthiest, happiest lives possible.