We all know our pets age, and it is something we don’t really want to spend a lot time thinking about or discussing. We have the memories of them as kittens and puppies, full of energy and vitality. We still picture them that way in our minds. Sadly, they do age and at a more accelerated pace than we humans. The good news is that we can take steps to make their senior years some of their best years if we choose to be proactive in our pets care.
We have identified seven areas of health that tend to be the most common areas that creep up on our senior pets and rob them of their health during adulthood.
- Dental Disease
- Organ Disease
- Hormone Disorders
- Lose of Special Senses / Senility
As we wrap up National Pet Dental Month, no issue is more common in senior pets than dental disease. Dental problems can cause pain and open our pets up to infection that can damage organs. Starting good dental hygiene early in life that consists of good home care, and regular dental cleanings can be a huge factor in preventing disease and increasing quality of and quantity of life in our pets.
The organ disease category covers a large spectrum of problems. Some organ problems can be prevented with good health care while others have either a genetic or age related base that can only be managed. Either way, the best way we can provide support for our pets is by early detection of these problems. The best way to accomplish detection is by regular physical exams and regular routine testing with blood work, x-rays, and urinalysis.
Arthritis is another very common problem that can rob our pets of quality life. Some pets with arthritis are easy to recognize. However, some pets are very skilled at hiding their arthritis symptoms and suffer with pain that is unseen to casual observation. Some of those pets that are just looked at as “old” or “lazy” may actually be sedentary because of arthritic pain.
Obesity can tie in with arthritic conditions and cause a spiral downward. The more arthritic pain they experience, the less they will exercise and the more weight they will gain. The more weight they gain, the more pounding on their joints, and the more advanced their arthritis can become. We also now know that fat tissue can and will produce a tremendous amount of inflammatory products that will accelerate joint disease.
We do see a significant increase in hormone disorder type diseases as pets reach their senior years. This disease usually has symptoms of rapid weight gain or loss, large changes in water intake and urine out put habits. Some of the common diseases in this category are thyroid disease, diabetes, and adrenal gland disorders. Again, these diseases are diagnosed by routine blood work and urinalysis.
Loss of special senses such as hearing, vision, and smell as well as senility can look very much the same to an owner. If you feel your pet is showing loss of senses or seems confused or lost at times, then it is a good idea to have a physical exam to determine what tests and treatments may be needed.
As our pets are living longer, disease such as cancer seems to be more common. Saying a pet has cancer is fairly open statement because we see such a wide range of different types of cancers and in different locations of the body. However, regardless of the type of cancer, our best possible position to try and intervene and have success with any treatment is centered around early diagnosis.
We strongly feel that old age is not a disease but that diseases are much more likely as our pets age. We feel that routine physical exams coupled with regular testing with blood work, urinalysis, and x-rays will give us the information that we need to make the correct individual treatment plans to provide your pet with the best quality and quantity of life possible.
If you own a senior pet and would like to know more about senior testing, then give us a call and schedule an appointment for a senior exam and discussion on senior testing. We will be offering a 10% discount on senior work ups for the month of March.
Matt Thompson DVM
Matt Thompson DVM