This month we are focussing on our senior pets. Many people are not aware that they are living with a senior pet and may be surprised to learn that dogs and cats are classified as senior citizens when they reach 7 or 8 years of age. There may be obvious changes such as grey hairs around the muzzle, accidents around the house, hearing problems or stiff legs.
But beyond the changes you can see, there can be much more going on, such as a slowing metabolism and changing nutritional requirements. It is easy to put any one of the following signs down to 'getting old', however any of these symptoms may indicate an underlying age related disease:
- A cough
- New lumps
- Bad breath
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Occasional vomiting or diarrhoea
- Changes in appetite or thirst
- Increased urination
- Increasing or decreasing weight
- Loss of housetraining
- Difficulty climbing stairs or getting into the car
A regular health check with us is the key to picking up on any problems early and there is much we can do to help. Monitoring of your senior pet with blood and urine tests, blood pressure, eye, arthritis and weight checks are all important. We recommend all senior pets have a full physical exam & urine test at least once every 6 months – 1 year, and a blood test every 1-2 years. While this may seem like a lot, each year of an animal’s life is about the same as seven of ours, so a six monthly check up is like us going to the doctor once every three years!
Call us to make an appointment for your senior pet to ensure you have the happy and healthy years together that your best friend deserves.
Is my pet becoming senile?
It is well known that ageing takes a toll on our entire body including our brain and the same goes for our pets. So if you think your pet may be acting a little senile don't worry, you are not losing your mind. Research confirms that our pets suffer from dementia too and the disease that affects dogs (known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction) has many similarities to Alzheimer's disease in humans.
The signs of canine dementia can be classified by the acronym DISHA:
Disorientation: dogs often end up stuck in a corner or go to the hinge side of the door to be let out
Interaction: lack or decreased levels of interaction with family members or other pets
Sleep pattern is disturbed
House training is lost
Activity levels decreased.
While canine dementia has been recognised for some time, there is now increasing evidence that cats may suffer from senility too.
Signs commonly include:
- Vocalising more or in an odd manner
- Failure to groom themselves
- Forgetting how to use a litter tray
- Appearing agitated particularly when they should be sleeping
The most important point to remember is that there are many other diseases that can lead to any of the signs of dementia so diagnosis involves assessment of your pet and elimination of other diseases.