Did you know most of each day vets are dealing with senior pets?
One of my lecturers at university was very keen to point out to us that ‘Age is not a disease!’, and I agree with him completely. However, older dogs and cats do tend to present with a plethora of diseases by comparison with younger patients.
Just as with our human medical colleagues, a lot of our efforts and time are spent dealing with these ‘older age’ conditions.
What do we Classify as a Senior Pet?
Well, it may surprise you to hear that one dog or cat year would be equivalent to about seven of our years. There is a bit of a breed discrepancy, particularly with dogs (small-breed dogs live a lot longer than giant-breeds as a rule), but any dog over the age of seven would be considered senior. Cats over the age of nine would also fall into this category.
What sort of Diseases do Senior Dogs Suffer From?
It’s not so much that diseases are specific to one age group or another, it’s just that older pets are much more likely to be affected by many conditions.
Many organ systems deteriorate with age including heart, kidneys, thyroids, liver and eyes. Dental disease and arthritis are amongst the most common complaints and would affect most, if not all, aged dogs and cats.
Cancer in its many guises does not discriminate between pets and your local vet will see many different forms of this terrible disease far too regularly.
Preventing Illness in Senior Pets
We’ve repeated this many times, over the years, but early detection is the most important aspect to dealing with any disease process.
The first point, which I’ve already mentioned, is that dogs and cats age far faster than we do. As such, you should take your senior pet to the vet for six-monthly health checks. Your vet can pick up any signs of problems before they have a chance to develop too far.
It’s also worth doing some screening for common diseases – simple blood panels and blood-pressure tests are easy and inexpensive procedures. Regular dental exams and lifelong oral hygiene treatments are hugely important.
As arthritis is a progressive disease, ongoing preventive care is crucial in keeping this crippling condition at bay. Don’t forget that, as pets age, their dietary requirements change as well. Be wary of “senior” pet diets as they often sacrifice animal proteins and fats for more starches, which is the complete opposite of what you want for your senior pet.
Although we all feel the effects of the ageing process, keep in mind your pets don’t have to suffer as they get older. There are so many things we can do to keep your furry friends in a happy, pain-free state.
If you have any questions about your senior pet(s), please feel free to leave a comment, or if in doubt go and see your vet. We can’t turn back the clock but we can keep them feeling as young as possible up to a ripe old age and that has to be a great thought!