Just like us, our beloved pets start to get aches and pains as they age. This is normal as they get older, but what should you be looking out for that may mean your pet needs a health check?
One of the most common ailments affecting older dogs and cats is osteoarthritis. This is a progressive disease where the cartilage wears away and the joint is no longer as well lubricated as before. This leads to pain and inflammation. Common signs are stiffness, especially when getting up in the morning, reluctance to jump onto surfaces, into cars or climb steps, actions that were easily managed before. A visit to the vet is the first step in making a diagnosis. The vet will move the different joints and access the amount of movement and stiffness. Xrays are often required to see the extent of the arthritis. There is no cure for arthritis, but joint supplements, anti inflammatories, acupuncture and food formulated for arthritis can make your pet more comfortable to coupe with everyday life.
Kidney failure is a common disease in older pets especially cats affecting up to 30% of geriatric cats. Signs that might alert you to kidney failure is chronic weight loss, increased drinking and urination, vomiting and a bad breath. Blood tests and a urine sample can give your vet critical information about the status of kidney health. An ultrasound examination can also be useful to make a more accurate diagnosis. Unfortunately, kidney failure is progressive and can not be cured, but careful management can prolong your pet’s health and quality of life. Food plays a very important role in managing kidney disease as the correct food can decrease the workload of kidneys significantly.
If you notice your pet is running out of breath quicker than expected on their walks or has a persistent dry cough especially at night or after exercise, it may be wise to ask your vet to examine your pet’s heart. There are several conditions that can affect your pets’ heart as they age. It may be necessary to have and xray or ultrasound scan done to confirm the problem. We can’t cure heart failure but there are drugs and foods available that can help your pet to cope with the changes that are happening and slow down the progression of heart failure.
Old pets can suffer from similar loss of cognitive function as humans. Owners will observe that their pets seem disorientated and confuse at times. They might vocalise barking, whining or howling for no apparent reason while seeming to stare into space. Getting stuck in corners, lost in familiar surrounds and inappropriate weeing or pooing can all point to dementia. We cannot cure dementia, but with antioxidant supplements and foods high in antioxidants as well as medications that increase the amount of oxygen carried to the brain we can reduce the episodes of confusion. Sight and hearing loss can also add to the confusion. The most important issue is that your pet still has a good quality of life. This can be difficult to access. A consultation with our vet can help to guide you to make the right decisions for your beloved pet when they reach this stage of life.
It’s a dreaded word that many of us fear. There are as many types of cancer as there are different cells in the body. Some are malignant and tend to spread to other parts of the body while some are benign mostly growing more slowly. A check up with the vet can help to differentiate what type of a growth your pet is dealing with and if more action needs to be taken. There are also many natural remedies that have been shown to slow down the growth of cancers. Food also plays a part slowing down the growth of cancers. There are commercial pelleted diets available or for those who are up to it we can help formulate a more natural home cooked diet.
As our pets get older, they may start to struggle with both urinary and faecal incontinence. This may be due to another underlying condition or just weakness of the muscles and sphincters that normally control these functions. Acupuncture can often help to strengthen old dogs and cats to keep these bathroom mishaps to a minimum.
If you think you older pet is struggling with any of these signs or symptoms it may mean your pet needs a health check. Contact our reception today and book your appointment.
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