Lawndale Veterinary Hospital is highlighting the importance of senior wellness care during the month of October. It’s important for pet owners to understand what changes might occur as your pet gets older. There are many signs you can pick up on at home that would signal you to have your pet examined by one of our doctors. Additionally, keeping up with annual wellness exams, even if there are no vaccinations or other testing due, will provide an excellent opportunity for our doctors to examine your pet and hear about any concerns you may be having.
Have you ever thought about what age your dog or cat might be considered senior? Well, there’s not a one-size fits all answer, and you can find different answers depending on what source you are reading. Cats can start to transition from the adult to senior stage between the ages of 7 to 11. Age, size, and breed all play a role in life stage determination for dogs. Smaller breed dogs tend to enter the senior years later in life than larger breed dogs. You can find an estimated life stage for your dog or cat based on age and weight here on Idexx’s PetHealth Network.
Are you familiar with signs and symptoms to monitor for in your pet as he or she ages? Simply stated, anything that is unusual or new is a reason to consider having your pet examined. Here are some common signs that can signal changes in your pet that need to be explored further:
- Behavioral changes
- Mobility changes
- Excessive panting or other respiratory changes
- Changes in thirst
- Changes in bathroom habits
- Weight changes
- Gastrointestinal signs (appetite change, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation)
- Vision changes
- Hearing loss
- Skin lumps
- Bad breath
- Changes in energy level
There are some diseases that are more commonly identified in senior pets. Dogs and cats can develop conditions such as arthritis, kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and cancer. We also see hypothyroidism and glaucoma in older canine patients and hyperthyroidism in older feline patients.
While some things may change with senior pets, there are also some things that should stay the same! Continuing with excellent wellness care practices will help your senior pet have the best health possible during the aging process. So don’t forget the following:
- Feed your pet optimal nutrition (and don’t forget to feed a diet that is for seniors!)
- Help your pet maintain a healthy weight through appropriate caloric intake and regular exercise
- Annual wellness exams
- Wellness labwork
- Year-round heartworm, flea, tick and intestinal parasite protection
- Keeping necessary vaccinations up-to-date
- Continuing to focus on oral health
- Maintaining optimal behavioral health through enrichment and play
- And of course…lots and lots of love!
If your pet is entering into the senior years, you might want to consider asking our doctors about Lawndale’s discounted geriatric work-up. Pets can have a panel of testing that includes a physical exam, complete blood count, blood chemistry analysis, thyroid testing, urinalysis, chest x-rays, an electrocardiogram, glaucoma testing (dogs), and blood pressure screening (cats). This is an opportunity to screen for a variety of conditions that can be more common in senior pets. Catching many of these conditions early means greater success in treating the conditions in the long run. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, give us a call today!
Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS, MS
Photo credit: www.pixabay.com