By the time your dog or cat is seven years old, he is already middle-aged. The senior years start around age 10. Just like people, pets at this life stage may start showing early indications of declining health. They are also at higher risk of developing specific diseases based on their age alone. At Chaska Valley Veterinary Clinic, we recommend bi-annual preventive care exams so we can detect and treat potential problems as early as possible.
We tend to diagnose these problems more often in middle-aged and senior dogs and cats than we do in younger ones:
- Arthritis: Your older pet’s bones contain cartilage that provide important cushioning so the bones don’t rub against one another. Aging causes the eventual wearing down of cartilage that can lead to pain and inflammation. Your pet could have arthritis if you notice a stiff gait while walking, avoiding the use of some limbs, hesitancy in jumping, and vocalizing when being picked up.
- Cognitive decline: Also known as senility, this problem affects 50 percent of cats and dogs over age 10. Marked behavior changes such as aggressiveness, anxiety, and agitation are common. A regression in behavior that your older pet previously mastered, such as appropriate elimination and staying off the furniture, is common as well.
- Cancer: Every type of cancer is more prevalent in senior pets. You may notice changes in behavior, sores on the skin that don’t heal, lethargy, and weight loss in the earliest stages of animal cancer.
- Diabetes: The pancreas produces insulin, which in turn produces glucose that gives the body energy. Your pet has diabetes when his pancreas no longer creates enough insulin. Common symptoms include increased urination, vision disturbances, weight loss, fatigue, and irritability.
- Kidney disease: This problem is especially common in older cats. The aging process may cause toxins to accumulate in your pet’s kidneys and cause significant pain. Healthy kidneys are essential to enable your pet to eliminate waste from her body. Indications that your pet could have kidney disease include weight loss, vomiting, elimination accidents, increased thirst, and fatigue.
Preventive Care Improves Your Older Pet’s Quality of Life
Bringing your older pet in for a check-up every six months is one of the most loving things you can do as a pet owner. Without these appointments, your pet could suffer needlessly for months or years because you didn’t know anything was wrong. Some pet owners assume they would recognize a problem but that isn’t always the case. That is because dogs and cats are experts at hiding when they don’t feel well. It goes back to their primal instinct of not appearing weak to predators.
You don’t have to wait until your pet’s next senior wellness visit if she is struggling now. Just schedule an appointment for a comprehensive evaluation and one of our veterinarians will diagnose the problem. We will then discuss all possible treatment options for your pet’s comfort and well-being.